After years of different housing development proposals for Erwin Orchards, one is almost a done deal.
The Township of Lyon Planning Commission has unanimously recommended final plan approval for the residential components of the Orchard Crossing development, which will include 121 single-family homes and 40 duplex homes on 77 acres.
Orchard operations are expected to continue unchanged for the time being.
Applicant Lombardo Homes’ overall development vision for the 181-acre property north and south of Silver Lake Road, west of Pontiac Trail, includes retain the existing cider house and part of the orchards on 104 acres while adding a bakery, tasting room and event center. These facilities will come back for site plan approval at a later date.
“This final review cleans up most of the elements and all of the final changes to the plan,” township planner Brian Keesey said during the commission’s Feb. 14 meeting. “Accompanied by the (planned development) agreement, it will cover all the intricacies, construction schedule, phasing, permitted uses, everything will be incorporated.”
Greg Windingland, vice president of land development for Lombardo Homes, explained that construction of the homes would be done in four phases as the homes are sold, but did not give a specific construction schedule. . He presented a schedule of water, sewer and road permits which had already been submitted to the competent bodies or which would be submitted by the end of April.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve come up with for this plan,” Windingland said. He thanked council and residents and added that he thought the developer had done a good job addressing previous concerns about the sustainability of the orchard, heavy traffic, a path to Kent Lake Primary School and protection of homes in the area.
Keesey said a crosswalk on Silver Lake Road was the only traffic issue yet to be resolved by the Oakland County Road Commission, which delayed the crosswalk until the development of orchard operations continues.
Other changes to the plan since last fall include an event center parking lot that will be partially paved instead of all gravel, a larger bakery/farmer’s market, and the possibility of a drive-thru that would surround the 5,000 square foot building.
The drive-thru has raised concerns, as Commissioner Carl Towne noted it could “become a hazard with 8,000 people there and madness and children… I want barriers to make sure it there are no little children being hit. I’m not against it, I just want it to be safe.
Overall, the commissioners were satisfied with the plan.
“We placed great faith in the planner and the engineer,” Commissioner Jim Chuck said. “The next phase is the exploitation of the orchard. We worked on it for a long time, I like what I see. I have no worries that it won’t turn out that way.”
Peter Blake, co-owner of Blake’s Orchard with whom Lombardo negotiated to take over orchard operations on the property, confirmed that no contract had been signed, but he remained delighted to work with Lombardo’s team and be part of of the Community of Canton of Lyon.
“We think we know pretty well how to make this community proud,” Blake said. “If we have to do something, we’ll do it right. We have been here before and know the obstacles that can arise and we also know how to overcome them… We cannot have all the power from the start, it takes time, but we have a plan.