Planning Commission Chairperson Chockley penned this brief explanation of our most important local issue, which our local paper news outlet couldn't or wouldn't make space or time to print.  She mailed it to Neighbors who have written to her, so I am reprinting it here.

To Build or Not to Build, That is the Question. . .
Marlene Chockley, Chair
Northfield Township Planning Commission
Last June, the Northfield Township Planning Commission received a letter from a developer who has assembled just over 460 acres of land in the southwest corner of the Township. His hope is to tap into the sewer service provided by the Township and build a residential development. If there were no unbuildable portions of that acreage, potentially up to 1475 homes might be possible.
However, there are many significant challenges to realizing that potential. The land is zoned and master planned Agriculture which allows only one home per five acres. If an open space development is proposed preserving over half of the acreage as natural or recreational, clusters the homes, employs design excellence, and accesses paved roads, among other attributes, a density bonus of up to 150% can be obtained, thus one home per two acres in a best case scenario. Of course, many considerations must be addressed in the site plan stage, but this type of development could be done today. It is the property owner’s right under the existing zoning.
To increase that housing density, the zoning would need to be changed. While the owner could petition for a higher density zoning, a major determination for whether or not to grant that change is prescribed by the Master Plan. The Master Plan is the product of two years’ work gathering necessary background information, collecting public opinion through a comprehensive survey and two visioning/planning sessions, then developing the document and holding a public hearing. The resulting vision for development was recommended to the Board of Trustees by the Planning Commission and adopted July 10, 2012.
The Master Plan is not a static document; it can be amended if conditions change. However, because of the importance of this guiding document, amendments are not to be made quickly or in secret.
While the 460 acres are not currently master planned for the potential intensity, the Commission has defined a study area and is considering the positive and negative impacts of such a development. If the Commission determines that there is reason to consider a Master Plan amendment, many avenues for public participation will be employed to obtain a broad and representative view of the needs, wants, and concerns of our citizens. We expect that the Board of Trustees will approve the funds necessary to carry out public workshops and a scientific survey before any change to the Master Plan is actually proposed. This is an indispensable step which respects all citizens of the Township and their important role in the process.
Beyond that, several notices are required by law. Amendments require a minimum of six weeks for comment by neighboring jurisdictions and other entities. Any amending language and/or future land use map must be publicly available that entire time and a public hearing must be held with a minimum 15-day advance notice published in the Ann Arbor News. Stay tuned.