The developer of a new housing project near Nine Mile Road has agreed to pay for highway improvements to offset increased traffic.
Buster Heitman, primary partner in the company planning to put 170 homes on 52 acres near Nile Mile Road, said he won’t oppose helping pay for a new traffic light on the highway and two turn lanes at the development’s entrance.
Heitman had first opposed paying for either, claiming the need for traffic improvements was clear but that he shouldn’t have to pay when earlier developers in the same area did not.
“It’s a dangerous section,” Heitman said after a public hearing on his proposal last week. “But I’m the last guy to come along and I shouldn’t bear the full cost” of traffic improvements.
After more than two hours of hearings on the preliminary plans, Heitman said he’d agree to pay for the new traffic light if the city and state shared the cost of the left-turn lanes with him.
The traffic light, at the current intersection of Nine Mile Road and Rifle Club Road, will be the first inside the city on the busy road.
The new development will have its main entrance at that intersection, Heitman added.
The project, Riverside Village, is on the east side of Nine Mile Road and directly south of the old North Side Landfill.
Its major impact will be on the heavily used Nine Mile Road, state highway department representatives said at the hearing.
The turn lanes will be built by widening Nine Mile Road by using the former access lane that led traffic into the landfill, said Greg Figg of the state Department of Transportation.
The new turn lanes will cost between $60,000 and $75,000. The traffic light will cost up to $100,000.
The land has been part of the city since being annexed in the 1960s. Because the plan already has been submitted to city planners, Heitman would not face development fees being considered by the city for future projects in fast-growth areas.
The area around the project is zoned for single-family homes. Heitman’s proposal would build about 76 single-family homes, 66 townhouses and eight fourplexes.
The cost-sharing for the turn lanes must be hammered out within a week, said City Hearing Examiner Greg Smith.
Smith has two weeks before ruling on any other conditions required before the proposal is approved.
Anthony Lentz, whose home overlooks the proposed project, asked Smith to make sure that Heitman maintains a non-developed buffer on the east edge of the site.
“I wanted to be sure the development did not remove the trees that are now on the common land” to be used as the buffer, said Lentz.
Heitman said he hopes to complete the proposal and obtain final city approval within three months. Construction could begin this fall if he can complete his financing.