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Posted on Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

New construction: 323 single-family homes proposed west of Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


Birmingham-based Biltmore Development wants to construct 339 single-family homes in Scio Township.

Lizzy Alfs |

Following years of sluggish real estate activity across southeast Michigan, David Stollman of Biltmore Development believes the market is right for new home construction in Washtenaw County.

“There really hasn’t been any significant developments going in the ground since 2006,” he said. “The supply of developed lots is significantly reduced and the inventory for builders to build homes on is very low — almost non-existent. We felt it was a good time to bring a project forward.”

Biltmore, a century-old development company based in Birmingham, Mich., wants to develop a 323-lot single-family subdivision along the east side of Staebler Road between Jackson and Park roads.

The property is known as the former Farmer Grant land, and the portion Biltmore wants to develop is still owned by the Grant family.

The project is the first new subdivision of this scale proposed in Washtenaw County in years.

In June, home improvement chain Menards purchased 63 acres of the former Farmer Grant property — with Jackson Road frontage — for $7.4 million. The Wisconsin-based company is in the final approval stages before building a roughly 160,000-square-foot store on the site.

South of the proposed Menards store and south of Scio Township’s Honey Creek, Biltmore hopes to develop about 130 acres of farmland into a residential subdivision.

“The location provides opportunities to dine, shop and recreate all within a few minutes from the home,” Biltmore’s preliminary site plan says.

Biltmore submitted a Honey Creek Planned Unit Development site plan to Scio Township, and the property has already been rezoned from General Agriculture to Multifamily, which would allow 591 dwelling units on the site. Single-family homes are permitted under the multifamily designation, but Biltmore submitted a Planned Unit Development because the proposed lot sizes are narrower than what’s permitted, said Scio Township Planner Doug Lewan.

Biltmore’s proposal comes as housing starts in Washtenaw County are on the rise, but residential building permits are still well below the county’s peak during 2000 to 2005.

So far in 2013, builders have pulled 279 single-family construction permits, including 12 in Scio Township, according to data from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Homes are being built in already-developed subdivisions where construction was mostly stagnant for years, including Scio Township’s Polo Fields, Legacy Heights in Saline and Kirtland Hills in Pittsfield Township. Meanwhile, regional and national players like Trowbridge Companies and Toll Brothers have re-entered the Washtenaw County market with plans to build several dozen homes.

For Biltmore, the new proposal is the largest project the company has proposed since before the economic downturn.

“There really has been no development on our part or really throughout southeastern Michigan of any significant size in the last seven or eight years,” Stollman said. “We’re encouraged by the economic indicators and by the success of builders selling homes in the market. We think that southeast Michigan has turned the corner and is very much headed on the upswing.”

Biltmore has developed dozens of residential subdivisions in Metro Detroit; it also developed the Barclay Park Condominiums on Nixon Road. In 2001, the city of Ypsilanti chose Biltmore to be the first developer of the Water Street property. The city "dismissed" Biltmore from the project in 2004 when the two sides couldn't agree on who would pay for cleaning up the contaminated land.

The company plans to purchase the Staebler Road property in Scio Township for its subdivision development, said Jim Chaconas of Colliers International, a commercial real estate broker who has the property listed for sale.

“We had three or four people who wanted to (build here), but we worked on a deal with Biltmore,” he said.

The subdivision would be developed in four or five equal phases over eight to 10 years, according to the plans. The north end of the site would have 215 lots called the “Village Lots,” which are typically 60 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The south end would have 108 “Estate Lots,” which are typically 85 feet wide and 120 to 140 feet deep.


Biltmore's preliminary site plan (it has since been slightly reconfigured) shows the potential layout of the project. Each box represents a single-family home, with the Village Lots to the north and Estate Lots to the south. 16 lots have since been removed from this original plan

Stollman said the company would develop the lots and then sell them to homebuilders to construct the houses.

“We haven’t sold the lots as of yet, but we likely will start discussions with (homebuilders) once we’ve gotten further along in the site planning process,” he said.

Stollman estimated the Village Lots homes would be priced between $300,000 and $400,000, and the Estate Lots homes would be priced between $450,000 and $600,000. He said those are estimates and the prices could change.

“The market has changed significantly from the very dark times during the recession, and we see a significant demand for new homes in the area,” he said.

The average home sale price in the county is showing year-over-year gains since 2009. The average sale price in 2012 was $210,616, according to data compiled by the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors. The average sale price in July 2013 was $263,978.

The plans show the subdivision would include more than 12 acres of contiguous hardwood forest. There would be setbacks from Honey Creek, walkways for recreation, and additional flood plain storage for Honey Creek in detention ponds.

The site plan went before Scio Township’s Planning Commission for a first consideration and public hearing. Biltmore made changes to the project and resubmitted the site plan last week, said Midwestern Consulting’s Scott Betzoldt, the civil engineer for the project.

Betzoldt said changes included: More open space and parkland were incorporated into the plans, a new pedestrian connection will wind through the subdivision and up to Menards and its potential outlot properties, and a pathway will go through the 12-acre woodland preserve.

“We’re also working with the Washtenaw County Road Commission and Scio Township right now about some utility grid upgrades and road improvements,” he said.

For Scio Township, the development comes on the heels of several other proposed projects in the area; Menards is in the final approval stages before building its store, 2 restaurants and multifamily housing is proposed on South Zeeb Road; and a Holiday Inn Express is proposed for vacant land near Zeeb Road and Interstate 94.

“I think, with the somewhat resurgence of the economy…you’re seeing a certain pent-up demand,” said Scio Township Supervisor Spaulding Clark. “Where three, four years ago you couldn’t build a house to save your life and you wouldn’t want to open a business, I think people are saying suddenly, ‘Things are selling again.'"

“I think both the real estate market has picked up, and somewhat slowly, the business end of it is picking up as well. None of it is terribly surprising, but it has been a long dry spell,” he continued.

View Honey Creek Development in a larger map

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Frustrated in A2

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

So if there is still building going on in Scio Twp why did the city of A2 waste money, that could've been used on a gambit of other things, on their Greenbelt project???


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

Now Scio Township will have its own Levittown.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Lets multiply 323 houses with 2 cars each- so you are looking at additional 600 cars that we have literally build the infrastructure around. Whether you use the car for 1 min to enter and leave your home. SOmehow we will end up footign the billing to maintain another monstrosity. A2 you are affect by this aswell- becuase the kids will need busing, or the parent will drive the. nothing is free - and there are hidden consequenses. By the way , I have seen the polo field houses - I would exactly call them quality built. I guarantee you this - this houses will be of the same mold. Expect to replace the roof within 15 years at $25000 a pop


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

BTW Many of the problems with roofs have been eliminated with the advent of architectural shingles. Except for the period 10-15 years ago when they were using organic (green) material in the shingles.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

And from what vantage point did you see the Polo fields? Are you an inspector? What makes you an authority on quality houses? Most problems with houses built in the last 40 years have more to do with lumber that was air dried instead of kiln dried.

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3:25 a.m.

Bye bye, peaceful meadow...


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Technically I don't believe it is a meadow. I think it has soy beans ( haven't paid much attention), It is a crop field.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

How is this possible w/ our green belt that we spend millions upon millions on (to NOT acually own the land)? Are we just not bying enough development rights and not owking the land? Do we need to raise the millage for the green belt?

Scott Reed

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

More sprawl... sounds like a bad idea.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

Why are 15% of these homes NOT priced at 10% above poverty level or whatever, for affordable housing? Doesn't a percentage of every housing development have to have some affordable housing in it? Or is that only in the city of Ann Arbor?

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Actually, that is not a requirement anywhere in Michigan (including Ann Arbor). The technical name is "inclusionary zoning" and it is not permitted under Michigan land-use laws. Some projects in Ann Arbor that were proposed as Planned Unit Developments (PUD) offered small numbers of affordable units as a way to show a public benefit, required in order to have this special treatment.

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

I hope not. Social engineering like that is a real infringement on liberty.

Dan Ezekiel

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 10:03 p.m.

Third try: Greenbelt program Greenbelt map

Dan Ezekiel

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

I don't know what happened to the links. Here is the link to the map: Here is the link to the Greenbelt program itself:

Dan Ezekiel

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

#thinker and #eduard copely, The Ann Arbor Greenbelt is going strong and has preserved more than 4000 acres of farmland and open space. It was never intended to prevent all development, and there is nowhere near the money in the Greenbelt millage to do that. Here is a link to the Ann Arbor Greenbelt website. . Here is a link to a map of the preserved properties within the Greenbelt: P.S.: I am no longer affiliated with the Greenbelt Advisory Commission (on which I served for nine years), because I was term-limited out.

Jill DeYoe

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

They're putting us in identical little boxes, No character just uniformity, They're trying to build a computerised community, But they'll never make a zombie out of me. Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes all the same. There's a green one and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one, And they're all made out of ticky tacky And they all look just the same. . . . they're blowing the chance to do proactive urban planning


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

Anyone considering living in this area and working downtown is hopefully mindful of the redesign of Jackson Road to one lane in each direction from Stadium to downtown. I can't imagine dealing with that on a daily basis!


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

Here comes the light rail commuter train!


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

All the details aside as to how this would actually happen - who would pay that kind of money to live across from a trailer park and a department store? I sure as heck wouldn't, especially when you can pay a similar price for a house all around Ann Arbor and not live next to these things. Heck, you could buy a house pretty close to downtown Ann Arbor for that price.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

I get that you wouldn't live in either place. I'm saying the hypothetical person interested in a house, for that price in a subdivision like that would have many other options than one boarding a mega-store and a trailer park. This has nothing to do with your ideal home location.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

KMHall No different than commenting on where you want to live! I just said I (read I) would not want to live in either place.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 10:49 a.m.

bob, that's true - if you're looking downtown. But if you're looking for a similar sub, with similar houses and similar lots, there are plenty that aren't next to a mega store and a trailer park. I just can't see how the developer expects to get the same price for these houses as a development basically anywhere else.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

jcj Apparently there are lots of people with tastes different from yours. Some are clamoring to live as close to the vibrancy of downtown as possible. There are lots of people who want to live in large houses and near their neighbors. How boring if the world were full of identical people. Why should everyone comment on where they wouldn't want to live?

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

You could buy half the house on half the lot with double the taxes.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

Actually I would have no desire to live in this development or 1 block off main st.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

I'm not saying it's positive or negative. All I'm suggesting is that I find it hard to believe that a builder would actually be able to get that price for a house next to a trailer park and a mega-store. I have nothing against trailer parks or higher price homes downtown ann arbor - but the housing market is the housing market and things like that impact the cost of a home. Location is everything. If you place two equal homes, 1 a block off main street and one in the location being talked about, the difference in price could easily be $500,000.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 7:01 p.m.

"Heck, you could buy a house pretty close to downtown Ann Arbor for that price." And that's a positive?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

why would anyone pay that much to live in a subdivision when there are far better choices for 600 g's

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

AA Neighbor, So how do you put this onto the Ann Arbor City Council? They have no zoning authority over Scio Township. I hope that the Scio Township Planning Commission gives this development a lot of thought. I wonder how it fits their master plan for the township. As JRW says, it seems there are opportunities to design new housing with fresh eyes according to 21st-century notions of what makes a liveable community. This doesn't seem to do it. Note that because Scio Township declines to pay for transit, these folks will be condemned to an auto commute. (And note that the Ann Arbor Public Schools are going away from a paid student transportation model, using AAATA buses for high-schoolers.) They are also not very near (in walkable terms) to the amenities offered on Jackson Road further to the east, much less to any type of urban center. It sounds like a recipe for isolation.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

In the comments, EVERYTHING is the fault of the Ann Arbor City Council.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 7 p.m.

"They are also not very near (in walkable terms) to the amenities offered on Jackson Road further to the east" Neither is Barton Hills, The Polo Fields, Scio Farms the list goes on.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

Awesome...another wannabe high rent, actually garbage cookie-cutter subdivision. Not like we need any trees, fields or wildlife anyways right? More middle of the road housing for middle of the road people while Ann Arbor continues to slide towards the middle of the road. And Menard's? Really... What is happening to this place. Before long it will be one long string of crap from here to Jackson, and you wont be able to tell the difference between the two.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

Spend YOUR money and preserve as much as YOU can afford!


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

Should see what they are doing out on Geddes Road. Boy did they destroy a lot of acreage. What a mess but I guess it is progress. Going to be sad to see Geddes become another row of homes and no more beautiful trees. Ann Arbor? You are going to loose your tree status if this keeps up. So sad to hear the bunnies and wild life are going to loose out big time.

Ann English

Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

Are you referring to the Geddes Road stretch east of Dixboro, but west of Superior Road? That's news to me.

Basic Bob

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

Anything past Dixboro Road going toward Canton is Superior Township.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

Just past that park past 23. Going towards Ypsilanti. And yes, it is Ann Arbor.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

Where on Geddes? Any chance it's OUTSIDE Ann Arbor?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

Bunny Abbott : in reply to your remark about a new housing development being ripe pickens for a tornado: truth is that tornadoes can occur almost anywhere at any time if the conditions are right. Some geographic areas are simply more prone to these conditions than others.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Swell!!! Lets see how many more open farm fields we can pack as many families into as possible. It's nice to see the growth in Dexter area the last 23 ys I have lived here but pretty soon it will be overgrown and lose it's charm.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

@huh7891... you shoulda seen Dexter 50 years ago. That's when it was truly charming. @jcj -- not far from wrong, Stockbridge can give the old Dexter charm and with a few more residents maybe the downtown area will bounce back. Now if they could just get that M52 bypass built and keep the traffic out of town.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

Guess you will just have to move to Gregory!


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

Disappointing that he property was rezoned. We will have only ourselves to blame when complaining about home values not rebounding. This is adding units to an already troubled market, and creating an unattractive trailer belt to the city.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

By the time these are built the "troubled market" will have been all over the map.

AA Neighbor

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

If you like clean water, wake up and Save Honey Creek! It's in peril from Oakland County developers and an AA CIty Council enthrall to them.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

I am a little fuzzy why AA City Council has anything to do with it. Oh, by the way, you forgot to blame Hieftje, which I will do for you! LOL


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

1950's and 1960's style sprawl, large houses on small lots and totally car-dependent adding to congestion, instead of adding housing where it's walkable to shops and uses mass transit. This development is just more mega sprawl that destroys open green spaces. There are many contemporary developments around the country that are much more innovative in terms of designing housing with walkability to shopping and services as well as utilizing mass transit. This does none of that.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Where is your capital JRW?

steve pezda

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

One thing we really liked about Scio Township was the fact that zoning specified at least one acre of property and 150 feet frontage to build a home. This subdivision deviates significantly from that and should not be allowed in Scio Township. Keeping the woods and making walking paths is great, but jamming so many homes into a beautiful area is sad.

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3:14 a.m.

It's horrible and they should change the zoning back the way it was.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

What about Country French and Arbor Pointe? Everyone there knows what their neighbor is having for dinner as well, since they are so crammed together. We looked at the pretty new houses years ago, but readily decided that a lot with some space provides a bit of a buffer and some privacy (especially if your neighbors are idiots). But to each his own, I guess. We certainly didn't buy the most expensive house in the neighborhood.

Leah Gunn

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

The greenbelt is working very well, but it is only directed to farmland preservation by offering a working farmer the purchase of development rights on the land. Therefore, the land stays in farming, and cannot be sold for development. It has been very successful, preserving many acres of farmland, and PDR was added to the renewal for the county's Natural Areas Preservation Program. The two entities work together to save many properties in the county for permanent preservation. However, they have to have cooperation from the owner of the land, and, obviously this owner wants to sell. Scio Township has the jurisdiction for all planning and zoning decisions within its borders. If you are concerned, go to their website and contact the Planning Commission to find out when hearings are scheduled, and contact the elected Township officials, who will make the final decision. And pay attention to Roger Rayle - he is right.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

Roger The same ones that presumed to tell Arizona what they should do. Everybody has an opinion , but AA seems to pass more resolutions concerning other entities than AA. Waiting for that one to come.

Roger Rayle

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

@jcj Not sure what "elitists" you're referring to, but we here in Scio Township are receptive to facts from wherever they might come and welcome discussion to help make good decisions on issues. (Gee, I wish had a two-tier comment stream... one for those who use their real names and "own" their comments and one for the rest. That's the way it used to be when we had the print version.)


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

Just what we need more elitist Ann Arborites telling the poor uneducated townships what they need to do!

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

Well said. And yes, Roger Rayle is always right.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

With the whole economic downturn, housing market implosion, thousands of families losing their homes to foreclosures, tax base erosion I hope many people have learned a lesson (doubtful) to not buy more house than they can afford. Not to buy without at least 20% down and the ability to handle a 15yr fixed rate home loan. Generally not to live beyond the means of the household income with no other debt than the home loan. McMansions are a terrible home choice. These mass constructed neighborhoods are not as well built as the older homes in town, and a housing development in a former farm field is ripe pickens for tornado damage. Not to mention that they are all cookie cutter with no charactor.

Basic Bob

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Those 800 square foot 1950s bungalows don't have much character either. They were just from a different cookie cutter.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

WHY would they be "ripe pickens" for tornado's ?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Yes, but when a lender tells you its no problem if you do the things you say not to, which were sometimes illegal, as they did in the 90's and the early 2000's and people take them up on the offer, you blame the poor sap taking the loan. Sometimes people are not as astute as you when it comes to these kind of choices, especially when a mortgage broker is telling you its OK.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

Welcome to Ann Arbor, we're just like Canton!

Ann English

Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

Jay, What did Biltmore build in Canton? You're not referring to Cherry Hill Road, I take it; that runs from Plymouth Road all the way to Dearborn, if not even further east.

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3:08 a.m.

Biltmore built that Cherry whatever-it's-called in Canton. lol

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

It's not Ann Arbor. It's Scio.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

A couple of points: Even allowing that sprawl is going to continue as long as suburban subdivisions remain popular, "12 acres of contiguous hardwood forest" is practically nothing. Surely a project of this size can set aside a much greater space to allow at least some of the local wildlife to hang on. Also, Julie raises an important issue regarding sewage treatment. An earlier development proposal for this area included a waste water treatment plant way in the back, next to an existing sub. I'm not unalterably opposed to new development, but I would like to know more about plans for water and sewer before any deal is finalized.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

As someone in the real estate business, I worry about adding this much to the housing inventory (and increasing interest rates) what will happen the property values as a whole? Right now, the average sale price in Ann Arbor is about $264,000. I'd like to see those values continue to rise.

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3:07 a.m.

In order for local government and the school system to be funded they need to. The alternative is just a tax increase by the liberals.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

I am sure you would! Bigger commission! As someone that plans on being removed from my house in a pine box I do not care to see values/taxes skyrocket.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

So much for greenbelt preservation that voters passed some years ago.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 1:02 a.m.

This development does not preclude a greenbelt.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

This is good news. Time marches on and people need a place to live. It is apparent that the current market for older houses is so much in favor of sellers that new homes are needed to help out buyers. Not everybody wants to live in an older house, or live in a house in the middle of the woods. There always has been and always will be people wanting a brand new house with neighbors nearby. So what? People are different than you so everybody on here needs to stop complaining.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

"everybody on here needs to stop complaining." Might as well ask the wind to stop blowing.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

There are no houses to sell. They are gone the minute they get on the market with multiple bids over their asking prices.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

I don't even think this is really an issue of "Not everybody wants to live in an older house" so much as it is about "new homes are needed to help out buyers". We just recently bought a house, and the market has been so seller-biased because of a shortage of inventory. My guess is as soon as enough people get above water on their houses, and the new construction starts, prices will reach a more realistic medium.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

And we wonder why teens and pre-teens get depressed!


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

This is fantastic and further evidence of the rebounding state economy under the leadership of Governor Snyder. Good paying construction jobs, increased population growth = additional tax revenue especially for the schools. Keep Rockin it Rick!


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

The bus is batting zero for two:


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

@leaguebus Get the facts straight. To date, about 190 teachers of the 233 issued pink slips in May have been invited to return to their classrooms And I don't believe this is the first time this has been done here.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

Obama did not bail on the auto industry like Rick did. We can probably blame more jobs on Obama, not the Rickster. At the same time additional revenue for the schools is a joke. He cut education by 15% two years ago. AA schools just handed out about 300 layoff notices, has an $18M shortfall. Its not AA's fault, blame it on Snyder and his big business buddies who hardly pay any taxes at all.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Improve an artery to satisfy and encourage development and guess what you get.

Ralph Pasola

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

323 single family detached homes will generate approximately 3,200 vehicle trips per day.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

And then deduct the 3199 trips per day that these people are all ready making to Ann Arbor.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Where have all the farmers gone?

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3:04 a.m.

Development feeds on development; it's very circular and it drives up the value of land making it unprofitable to farm. We are going to end up a net food importer as a country and it will contribute to the trade deficit and reduce our standard of living.

paul wiener

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

This kind of development only proves for the umpteenth time the falsity of the old real estate adage mantra: location, location, location. Let's hope this next horror is invisible from the road.

Ann English

Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

Invisible from Jackson Boulevard, yes. Sure to be visible from Staebler Road, where it's located.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

Its certainly closer to AA than Brighton. Location, location, location.... I could ride my bike downtown from there in 30 minutes.

Roger Rayle

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

I'm also concerned about the addition of more impervious surfaces in the Honey Creek watershed that this development will create. In the last several decades, we've seen more rapid rises in Honey Creek from rain events... causing much more erosion and flooding. Developers need to control water runoff even more now that what used to be a 50-year rain is now happening about every 7 years. They need to use permeable paving and more retention ponds.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

It's baffling to me that this area, being as progressive as it is, still continues on the path of sprawl. It simply is not sustainable in the long-term and I simply can't rap my head around why people buy such massive homes far away from the city only to rely on a single occupancy vehicle to get to work. There should also be a study on how this subdivision will impact traffic in Ann Arbor. More than likely, none of these people will be able to take public transportation. The social isolation that stems from living in auto-reliant, McMansion-style subdivisions is incredible. But I guess if this is what people want to spend their money on, they should go for it. It's just sad that they are essentially forcing other taxpayers to have to pay for their lifestyle (increased utility infrastructure costs, increased costs on building roads to support their car-ownership habits, and not to mention the environmental costs of destroying the land to build over-sized homes on).


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 11:01 p.m.

@whatsup, in other words, lolbertarians.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

This region is not progressive. It's Conservatives that like to smoke dope that drive the local politics.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

That's it. Car ownership is like a disease, eh?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

"That said, kids can be endless pits of need and desire, so maybe that's the issue." Only if you let them. Set boundaries and limits. Kids should not be calling the shots in the household.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

I don't really understand the appeal of such large homes either, but I can't say I absolutely wouldn't consider one if I had the cash. Our 1100 sq/ft house is actually more than enough room for us, and even if we had kids seems like it would be a good amount of space. That said, kids can be endless pits of need and desire, so maybe that's the issue.

Roger Rayle

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

If the new development uses part of Scio Township's remaining allotment of water from the Ann Arbor Water System, there will be that much less available to supply the homes using well water as the Pall/Gelman 1,4-dioxane groundwater contamination continues to migrate northward.. Four homes north of I-94 and M-14 without access to municipal water have had 1-3 ppb of dioxane in their drinking water, the westernmost of which was just detected this June. There are hundreds of Scio Township and Ann Arbor Township homeowner wells in the potential paths of the Pall/Gelman dioxane plumes if the State does not turn around its current "foxes redesigning the henhouse" environmental policies and force a protective, effective, and community-acceptable cleanup. Follow links at for more info.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

If this developer is holding up Barclay Park as an example of their fine work I hope Scio Township Planning takes a second look at approval. Those places we're built on a wetland, and the end units sunk so far into the ground that a few of them had their front steps repaired and replaced so many times, that along with many other unresolved problems, the owners sued the developers to break their sales agreements. No builders I know consider Biltmore to be the mark of quality. And yet, as many have pointed out, if this moves forward, they will likely rake their $200-$300K profit per house, but at what cost to our infrastructure, natural features, traffic congestion, etc?

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

@DJBudSonic - That's just the project the company has built in the area. Although, they have a number of projects in Superior Township and all across Metro Detroit. You can see a list here:


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2 p.m.

400-600K for a teeny-tiny lot right up on your neighbor's lot? *ponders* and where are all of these people going to be working? Not UM - pay there is miserable for most, and I've noticed over the years most of the higher-paid medical folks prefer to live in-town...commuting to the new Tech Mecca in Detroit? *deadpan* The Grant land is such a nice piece property, and such a boring, dated development. For that kind of cash at least a smidgeon of creativity!


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

@Billy $14/hr is still under $30k a year. Lots of people at the U make under $30k a year. They aren't buying $300,000+ homes unless they have a partner who makes a lot more.

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3 a.m.

Maximizing profit is the name of the game and it's too bad because we need someone to consider the aesthetic qualities.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

"There's no such thing as a poor pay grade at U of M." Tell that to all the adjuncts and grad-student wage-slaves that have been replacing tenure-track hires for a decade or so now. If you everyone at UM is living large, I got news for you.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

"Not UM - pay there is miserable for most," Lol WAT? You must be talking about some OTHER place called UM.....dishwashers make $14/hr + benefits at the University of Michigan... There's no such thing as a poor pay grade at U of M....


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Yeah, I know the area needs more homes, but I'm not sure where the people clamoring for homes at these prices are. There are already subdivisions in Saline, Ypsi Township, etc that are of that same build/price and still have room and lots available for construction. Are modest-sized affordably priced new homes just not a thing anymore? Seems like all the new homes I see going up anywhere are of the McMansion variety.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

Can someone please explain why there needs to be a Menards, which is a Home Improvement store, right next to Lowes? Couldn't we choose something better to put there, like a Michael's Craft Store, or Sonic restaurant? Not that we need another "fats" food joint, but they do have excellent ice slushes, and it would be a cool addition to have a drive in restaurant!

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

The Menards representative I've worked through the approval process often pushes Menards' lumberyard as what sets the retailer apart from competition.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

I have nothing against competition, but Menard's has proven itself to be a renegade corporation (countless environmental violations) run by a narcissistic, ethically-challenged founder. I, for one, will not be setting foot there. More info on what you associate with when you shop Menard's:


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

"Couldn't we choose something better to put there . . . . . " WE might, but WE aren't doing the choosing. That's being done by the people who manage Menard's, which is putting its capital at risk building there. Those managers have apparently concluded, correctly or not, that a Menard's right there is a good idea. WE don't have a vote on that issue.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Menards and Lowes serve two different price-points in the same market. Think of Lowes as Macy's and Menards as Kohl's. I love Menards. I'm glad I won't have to wait till I'm in the Lansing area to go to one anymore.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

It's a thing called COMPETITION. Maybe you are happy with one and only one store for your hardware needs, but others like CHOICE. If Michaels or Sonic have an interest in the area, I am sure they will look for land, submit a proposal and open one. OR if you want, open them yourself. I know SONIC is looking for franchisees.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Lets see, I think most of those against any development would not be living in their current home if the anti development craze had been in vogue when THEIR house was built.

Dog Guy

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Village and Estate are such dated names. Put in surveillance cameras and name it CommonCore.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

So with this new potential for traffic coming into town on Jackson Road maybe they might want to reconsider that silly road diet thing? I thought they were already really close or maybe even over the traffic volume before, so it would seem that this would drive them deep into the infeasible region. Like that will stop them.

Eduard Copely

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

I remember something about an Ann Arbor Greenbelt a few years ago being championed by one Daniel Ezekiel. Has the city abandoned said initiative? Also, based on the pervasive pro-building mood of Ann Arbor City Council, I guess the only thing left to do is to welcome Biltmore Development to the neighborhood.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

you mean the greenbelt TAX that voters approved for the next 22 years that the real estate mayor and his partners sold A2 on. The one that drove up the costs of homeownership artificially and raised tax's at the same time. ... You are kidding right?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

This is in Scio Township not the City of Ann Arbor


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Sorry I meant Toll Brothers is building at Zeeb and Scio Church


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

@Boo. Yes, Scio is tied to the AA system. But building has been held at bay because of the lack of capacity and taxing the current system. There is a new Toll Brother Development coming down Jackson near Scio Church and they will be on septic.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Oops, I meant Zeeb and Scio Church


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Yay...just what we need....tons more new homes that don't sell... So I knew a guy this operated this "scam" as I would call it. You talk the bank into giving you loans to build spend less than 20% of that loan to build the spend the other 80% on yourself. If the homes don't sell...not your's all "potential money" that acts as collateral. This is why we have all these new half-done subdivisions all over the place....that have stayed in a state of partial completion for over a decade in some places. There are so many old houses for sale in this market right now...NEW homes are not only completely unnecessary...few people want to buy new home when they can get a foreclosure of equal value for a 1/3rd the price (more like 1/2 today though). I don't think most people realize that the cost of building a 3500sq/ft home is only around $50k in materials and WAY less than that in labor...the profit margin on homebuilding is obscene and exploitative in most cases...


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

don't forget the cost of the property. building the roads. installing the utilties (gas, water, sewer, etc). Other than that, this sort of detailed costs analysis will take you far in your government career.

Angry Moderate

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

There's a little thing called competition that prevents developers from marking up house prices 500%. FYI, labor and materials for the houses are not the only costs of building an entire subdivision.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Julie Don't let the facts get in everyone's way!


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Not sure if you've noticed but the market in AA has changed. The new build at the Gallery in Polo Fields has completely sold out and there is a high demand for homes in AA. Most home in Scio that were built in the past 15 years are selling in less than 5 days with multiple offers. Many going for over asking price. Great time for a developer to come in and provide something new. I just question the location and the lot sizes... and am concerned the community will end up with a problem on their hands down the road if a waste water treatment facility is installed on the location. When this was proposed before the economic turndown, experts told the neighboring communities that it was not a question of if there would be a problem, but when......


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

But wait, wait! I thought that the building of all those 14 story boxes in downtown AA was supposed to stop urban sprawl. Or was that just more developer and planning commission BS?

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 2:39 a.m.

Apparently it never does because not all developers specialize in high rises. If only we had the jobs to match all of these homes they want to build...


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

What school system will this development be in?

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

Several responders think Ann Arbor schools.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

They'll just have to add bike lanes so that the residents can bike to work in down town Ann Arbor. Can anyone say sprawl?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

I never thought I'd say this, but what happened to the greenbelt idea?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

It was my understanding that the sewer capacity was at it's limit. The last time there was a proposed development in this area, the developer planned a waste water treatment facility for the area. Similar to what Thornton Farms has further down Jackson. The homeowners in the area were adamantly against this as there were questions as to who would maintain the facility, especially if the development did not sell well or the economy tanked and it did not sell out. It was my understanding that the township was pushing the project through because they wanted to utilize the waste water treatment facility. Anyone know the plans for sewer for the new development???

Boo Radley

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

It should be interesting then to see what happens. The city of Chelsea lost a very large lawsuit from a developer who was told no more homes could be built because their sewer treatment facility was at capacity. If I remember correctly, the gist of the judgement was that if the area was zoned for homes, the city had to provide the services. But isn't Scio's system tied in to the Ann Arbor sewer system?

Boo Radley

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Wow .... $300,000 to $400,000 for a home on a tiny little lot in a massive subdivision right across the road from a trailer park ... Err, excuse me .... I mean manufactured home community. Good luck to them. Some people like that kind of thing, but I could buy a pretty nice home on a very nice large wooded lot for $400,000.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

@ Chapmaja. So you think a couple making $105k a year is a LOT of money? I think you people need to learn what the pay scales in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw county are. People complain when student housing is built, they complain when single family housing is built. Maybe it is just the fact that people want to complain about something that they dont want. Guess what, If you dont want to buy one. DONT. END OF STORY. Move along


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

The first problem I have is 300K-400K for the houses. That is a LOT OF MONEY, and proves AA is pricing itself out of a lot of people living in the area. Based on the limited information I could find, the Scio Township tax rate is roughly $4600 per year, excluding anything the AAPS would apply. A 30 year fixed rate mortgage with taxes and PMI included on a 250K loan (50 K down payment) would run you 1633.21 per month. When you figure that housing payments should cost no more than 25% of your take home pay (to be financially stable), a house in this development would require an annual per-tax income of at least 105K per year, minimum. This is to be financially secure enough to really afford the house. 105K is a lot of money and many families can not afford that much house. The problem is too many developments are hitting the 300K plus houses and the market for new construction in the 100-150 K house is non-existent. It used to be a simple 3 or 4 bedroom house 2 simply bathrooms with decent fixtures and a decent lot was reasonable. Now everything has to be high end construction, which prices a lot of people out of the new house market.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

and once completed how long will it be before a homeowners association complains about the manufactured homes across the street?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

You should also note that it costs WELL under $100k to build one of those mcmansions...


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

That's $300000 to $600000 (for the "Estate" lots)! Such a deal, but hey, people & their money are soon and easily parted.

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

This is in Ann Arbor school district - currently assigned to Haisley / Forsythe / Skyline.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

I wonder if this will have any effect on the proposed redistricting....


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

I guarnatee that the tax dollars to the township and to the school district will fuel this development. Jackson Rd was converted into a boulevard-style road to accommodate development. However, it will not be able to handle the traffic along the road that this will generate. There will then be a push to widen it or eliminate the median to add lanes, perhaps redo parts of Liberty as well to allow for another egress from the area. I would say that the developer needs to submit a traffic plan with projected traffic patterns and growth 10 years after development along with recommendations to reduce burdens on the street. It should also pony up some money into an escrow or other fund to help with the costs of such road developments instead of leaving it to the county road commission to address later. The road commission's only solution will be to put a roundabout somewhere as it is wholly enamored with them in remote areas at the edge of the county like Pontiac Trail and Geddes Rd these days.

Ryan Munson

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

I agree with the tax dollars the township and school district will capture will be a moving point, but I don't agree with DennisP's analysis of the increase in traffic. Round-a-bouts are usually solutions where there is a need to replace stop signs or highly trafficked areas with many close intersections where otherwise traffic lights would be. I could not see a consideration for roundabouts until 20 years out at least.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

300 lots would be roughly six hundred extra cars. So, between 1200 and 2000 extra vehicle trips per day. That additional volume seems to be well within the capacity of Jackson Road.

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Jackson Road can easily handle the volume. The developer might be forced to make upgrades to Staebler and Park. I would be more concerned about water and sewer infrastructure.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

I guess my first question would be - What school system would cover this area?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

Ann Arbor

Thinkin' it Over

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

The homes are too crowded in the "village" potion and should be reconsidered. Would children from families living there attend Dexter schools but have an Ann Arbor address?


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Ann Arbor Public Schools


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

I don't know who would pay this kind of money for homes on tiny lots.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

...and doesn't want to burn gas or spend time mowing.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

Anyone who wants an Ann Arbor address and has the cash.

Max Peters

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

Great another middle class trailer park

Anthony Clark

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

I couldn't agree more with the middle class trailer park analogy. I don't understand why anyone would want to live in one of these monstrous subdivisions. A hideous blight on the landscape.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.



Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

At $300-$600K a pop those are pretty nice trailers.

Ann English

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 10:54 a.m.

I've never been to a Menard's store, but this new one, if the Biltmore development goes in, will have a subdivision right behind it, not just one right across Staebler Road from it. At least 13 new roads will be required for this new subdivision.

Ann English

Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

Right after an article was published about new housing proposed on Zeeb Road right behind Meijer, I started wondering if Menard's does this sort of thing, too: locating where there is housing, either rentals, single-family, or both, immediately behind it.

Jill DeYoe

Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 11:03 p.m.

Menard's is the Walmart of home improvement stores.


Sun, Aug 18, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

And your point is ..............what?