Maxinkuckee Village Preliminary PUD at Plan Commission

On Tuesday, August 19th, Mr. Gary Aker introduced his plans for Maxinkuckee Village to the Culver Plan Commission.  He was assisted by Mr. Allen Collins of CMD Construction and his Attorney, Mr. Fred Jones.  This was the first trial of Culver’s revised PUD ordinance.  The ordinance was revised last year to add a preliminary concept review by the commission to determine if the developer was on the right track or if the commission had fundimental issues with the proposed development.  There are still quite a few requirements at this stage including a site plan, topography map, boundary survey and proof of financial capacity.  I watched this with interest as it should be a precursor of what happens with the Sand Hill Farm PUD I am considering.

Maxinkuckee Village is a PUD development that encompasses the existing Culver Marina and approximately 25-30 more acres of undeveloped land between the Culver Marina entry drive and the Mystic Hills Golf Course.  It consists of 31 Villas and 16 Townhouses.  The Villas are free-standing structures.  The Townhouses are four units per building in four buildings.  It is a fairly low density development with extensive green space.  The units are to be sold as condominium units with an association to take care of grounds.  There is access via the existing marina drive and a new access directly onto State Road 117.  Dedication of the interior streets was not discussed.  Since this is in an unincorporated area, the street dedication would have to be negotiated with Marshall County.  There was some question about using the Maxinkuckee Village name too, since there is already a historical, unincorporated area with that designation (here).

Mr. Collins made a good presentation as usual.  He is an excellent salesman and I am quite confident that “he could sell ice cubes to Eskimos” as the saying goes.  The Plan Commission asked good questions with assistance from the audience and he was prepared for most everything. 

The developer seemed most concerned that they would get hit regarding funnelling, but that is probably a non-issue in this situation.  They are not requesting an expansion of the marina and the new residents would have to rent slips, so there is not an increase in loading on the lake.

A major concern of the Plan Commission was sewer access.  There was lengthy discussion at the time of the Ordinance revision regarding whether to change the requirement so that sewage must go to the Town.  It was determined that “Municipal Sewer” was acceptable.  The developer satisfied this by agreeing to set up a Conservancy District, which would be a taxing body and thus qualify as a Municipal Sewer.  The commission questioned this, but according to the Building Commissioner, the commission’s attorney rendered an opinion that this interpretation was accurate.

There were a few additional issues that I found interesting and possilbly useful for Sand Hill Farm.  First, the ordinance states that the PUD must be complete in 2 years.  When asked, Mr. Aker indicated that it was not their intention to complete the project at one time.  While they do have a waiting list, they would plan to build units as needed.  They projected 60 months for completion.  The Plan Commission did not voice any objection to this extended time period, nor did they attempt to lock them into even the 60 month period.  There seemed to be more concern about the potential for unfinished or unoccupied units than there was for the extended buildout period.   This is useful information as I take this as a clarification that completion of the PUD as a zoning change and infrastructure change is separate from the construction of units on site.  I am assuming that the required covenants will further define when the ammenities have to be in place.

The second issue that surprised me was that the Plan Commission did not seem concerned that the proposed development did not follow the development density criteria in the Culver Comprehensive Plan.   The Comp Plan calls for zero to .5 units per acre.  Mr. Collins couldn’t recall an exact acreage at the meeting, but the Pilot News article reported that the entire acreage including the commerical area was just under 56 acres.  I had always assumed that the commercial area would not be counted for density, but that does not seem to be the interpretation of the Plan Commission.  Even with the commercial area included, the development would have only been allowed a maximum of 27 units per the Comp Plan.  Maxinukuckee Village is currently requesting 47 dwelling units.  I was surprised at this flexibility in the Plan Commission’s interpretation since they recently shut down a proposed hardware store development based on its non-compliance with the Comp Plan. 

Lastly there was the issue of public input.  There is quite a stir in the community against Maxinkuckee Village.  The preliminary approval was listed on the agenda for the Plan Commission, but it was not required to be published in the paper and was not published.  The Plan Commission allowed public input, though they stated that was not a requirement.  The Plan Commission passed the preliminary approval based on the developer having all of the required elements listed in the ordinance and made no subjective comments or references.  In my opinion this will make it hard for them to deny the project at the next phase if the developer again complies with all of the items required by the ordinance.  The preliminary approval was designed to address the concept questions and they have now approved it in concept.  I am sure that public opinion can and will sway them, but it will take more than feelings to stop this development from moving forward.

 Kevin L. Berger

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