47th District Court property plan changes

Farmington officials on Monday agreed to extend a sale agreement for the former 47th District Court property on 10 Mile Road – but they clearly weren’t happy about it.

Officials approved the deal with SDC Ventures in mid-May. Company owner Roger Sherr originally presented a proposal for 14 single family homes, with a “stub” street connecting to adjacent property owned by Farmington Public Schools. Sherr said he was unable to reach an agreement with the district to purchase the land. Having to revise the proposal drove his request for the 30-day extension.

“This is a great piece of property…it deserves a fantastic development,” he said. “A fantastic development to me includes both pieces of property.”

District officials have said they intend to sell the property, which currently houses the Schulman Administrative Center, transportation garage, and Maxfield Education Center. Sherr said he made an offer that would have allowed the district to vacate the property at its own pace. Without the land, Sherr is proposing a condominium community, with duplex and triplex units.

Council member Greg Cowley asked whether approving the condominiums for the courthouse property would commit the city to similar homes across the school property.

“I don’t think so, I think we can do both,” Sherr said. “I’d certainly rather see owner occupied housing than rental.”

City attorney Thomas Schultz pointed out that SDC Ventures still has to go through the Planned Unit Development process, and “you have no obligation under any agreement to approve the plan.”

Mayor Bill Galvin said his neighborhood has apartments in the middle of single family homes, “and a lot of people aren’t happy about it.” However, he added, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. if we put it out on the market, it’s another 60 to 90 days. I prefer the single family housing, but I want to develop this project.”

Noting that Sherr’s company would make a larger profit from 19 condominiums than 14 single family homes, Council member Steven Schneemann asked Sherr to consider putting some of the additional money into a higher quality product.

Council member Jeff Scott cast the lone vote against the project. He said he would approve the extension if a refundable $25,000 deposit became non-refundable, but Schultz said that won’t happen until after the 120-day PUD approval process.

“It seems we keep attracting developers that want to keep dragging things along,” Scott said.