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SG-W:/ Manchester Township grapples with mobile home plan

>From today's Ann Arbor News, more pressure to replace farmland with mobile
home development in Manchester Twp...

Manchester Township grapples with mobile home plan

MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP - A manufactured housing discussion began as a
hypothetical one in the township. Now it's for real.

The township's Planning Commission started thinking about rezoning 117 acres
of farmland for mobile homes. The idea was to satisfy the need for
affordable housing, but also to control requests, commission member Paul
Siano said.

Then, a couple of weeks later, a separate proposal surfaced: A Plymouth
developer wants to rezone about 72 acres of farmland off M-52 south of
Manchester for about 350 homes.

And like other manufactured housing proposals in neighboring townships, this
request has raised protests and standing-room crowds at township hall.

"These manufactured housing projects are about as popular as sharp sticks in
the eye," Siano said. "And nobody but nobody has anything good to say about
them but those who stand to profit."

The commission already has had public hearings on both locations and plans
to discuss the issue at its meeting Thursday. The commission should have a
recommendation on the M-52 proposal by early August.

Citizens who've spoken at past meetings generally feel that
manufactured-home owners don't pay their fair share of taxes and that the
township is unprepared to provide the services needed by such a community,
Siano said.

The developer of the M-52 proposal was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

However, he has told the township he plans to market the homes to senior
citizens; to allow only new, double-wide homes; and to build in phases.

The property is located on the west side of M-52 between Bowens and Allen
roads and is located in the Clinton School District.

Meanwhile, the owner of the original piece of property under consideration
off Ely Road in the southern part of the township no longer wants to rezone
it, Siano said.

The village of Manchester, which is a part of Manchester Township, already
has a manufactured housing community. The 116-home Manchester Manor is
asking the village planning commission to rezone agricultural land for 65
more homes.

A manufactured housing proposal for nearby Sharon Township raised
considerable controversy last spring.

A Southfield company proposed a 693-home community on 178 acres of farmland
at the southeast corner of M-52 and Waldo Road. The township and county
planning commissions both recommended denial.

Manchester Township resident Karen Mattson said she worries about a large
community's potential effect on traffic, emergency services and the

"The bottom line is services can't handle that impact," Mattson said.

Clinton Schools Superintendent David Pray said he's concerned about how many
manufactured housing communities the school district can support.

The district already has three communities and Clinton Township recently
zoned for a 250-home manufactured community a few miles from the proposal in
Manchester Township, he said.

Manufactured housing is a legal use, Siano said, so townships can't turn
down proposals simply because of the type of housing. State legislation,
however, needs to address taxation and whether townships have to make room
for such uses, he said.

Agricultural land is especially vulnerable because that's where developers
find large plots of open land, Siano said.

"Is agricultural zoning not a valuable label to have and why should that be
treated as the default zoning designation?" he said.

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