Local developers want to build
200 homes on M-53 in township
ALMONT — The Almont Municipal Building was filled to near capacity Thursday, November 21 for a joint meeting of Almont Village and Township officials.
All were there to hear preliminary plans for a proposed 80-acre development at the northeast corner of Van Dyke (M-53) and Hough Rd. to include as many as 200 new homes, several retail spaces, and potentially a health facility.
Those proposing the planned unit development (PUD) on 80 acres just north of the Lakestone Bank Branch, are Almont realtor Dan Walker; his father, Roger Walker; and members of the Blake family, owners of Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill.
The key to making the group’s dream a reality is that the Village of Almont would have to agree to provide water and sewer to the site, which is situated inside Almont Township.
Making the presentation was Dan Walker, who discussed the group’s preliminary plans, before fielding questions from village and township officials and the general public.
Walker views the parcel as prime for future development, suggesting it is inevitable that someone will seek to develop the property within the next few years.
It is his hope that the Walkers and Blakes are the ones to be afforded that opportunity.
“We’re looking at a prime piece of property that is already in your master plan,” Walker said. “At some point, this location is going to be developed.
“Our group is from this area,” he continued. “I went to school in Almont, my kids will be going to school here, and I’ve opened by business here.
“We all care about and are invested in this community,” Walker said. “We want to do something that is tasteful, timeless and will leave a positive legacy for the community. Everything we do will be done first class and without cutting corners.”
One of the early sticking points in the process is whether the village’s wastewater treatment plant has the capacity to accommodate up to 200 new homes, and possibly a stand-alone hospital or medical facility.
Almont Village Council President Steven C. Schneider asked Walker if the developers would agree to pay the cost of extending water and sewer to the project site — as well as for the cost of an engineering study.
“If this goes forward at some point, we’re going to have to have a study done,” said Schneider. “Will you pay for that study, given that the township will be the primary tax beneficiaries of this project?”
“I think it’s a given that we would cover the costs for that study,” said Walker. “That is part of our thinking process.”
Council member Dave Love expressed concern about the wastewater plant’s capability of handling a significant increase of users.
“There are so many sewer lines tying into our rain gutters,” said Love. “We just paid $1.6 million to put in new holding tanks to hold the sewage during the rainy season.
“That much added demand could cause real problems,” he said. “The amount of extra waste going in there could be astronomical. Where is the money going to come from?”
Some audience members also expressed concerns about the proposed development, alluding to increased traffic on M-53, its impact on the community’s rural identity, and its potential demand on DTE’s local power grid.
After the meeting, Steven C. Schneider said the next step in any process to move forward with the proposed development would require a thorough study to determine feasibility and costs.
“We would need to get a proposal from Rowe (Engineering) to get some sense of cost and feasibility for such a project,” said Schneider. “The traffic issue is of real concern. MDOT would probably have to widen the road or add turn lanes at that location.
“None of this can happen with the snap of a finger,” he said. “This is obviously still in its very early developmental
“I am excited about the possibilities of this development, but with reservations,” Schneider said. “I guess I have high hopes for the project, but am not overly optimistic until a study can be done.”
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.