BY EMILY THOMPSON
FARMINGTON — Developer Rich Haws intended to put his best foot forward during a recent presentation during a public hearing before the city council last week, but instead spent the evening defending his company against claims made by the city staff that he had not properly filed the proper master plan for the development in question.
Haws, of The Haws Companies, came prepared with drawings, studies, and endorsements that he hoped would allow him to express why he felt that the a specific zoning ordinance code, which allows for variances to the standard policy, should be applied to his particular project. What awaited him upon arrival was a report from city staff, which listed a number of concerns to the project, as well as a suggestion to the council that his entire site plan is flawed and should not be approved during the hearing process. After hearing public comments, Haws was allowed to present his case before the council, and immediately expressed his concerns by saying that he "had been blindsided since the issue has not been raised before now".
The staff report said that Haws Companies had not properly filed a master plan, as was required in the original development application. The nearly completed Park Lane Condos project was the first project in the large development, which makes up 72 acres within the site. Although the city mistakenly approved the site plan for the condos without requiring a master plan, staffers are trying to make certain that the same approval requirement is not skipped for the Park Lane Commons area, which will sit at the front of the condos.
If approved, Park Lane Commons would include a McDonald’s fast food restaurant. The developer is anxious to build that venue and other structures for potential occupants.
During the hearing as well as within a letter that he addressed to the council, City Manager Dave Millheim said that he "is concerned that the issue not become about McDonalds". He said that the overall plan is appealing, but he does want to ensure that the proper steps are taken.
There are issues with regards to the overall site plan, variances to current code, pedestrian access and more, but none were addressed during the hearing. Haws insists that the 33 acre parcel PMP that was included in the original agreement contract with the city is acceptable.
Elected officials, staffers and the developer agreed to meet soon to come to an agreement about what is legally allowed in regards to the master plan.