Berkley residents surprised by rezoning plans for new devolpment

Big changes could be coming to the city of Berkley. Many residents are just finding about plans that have been in the works for a year-and-a-half to change residential zoning across the town -- and they're not happy about it.

The Berkley Planning Commission is proposing a change to the zoning code, which could change the city's charming neighborhoods of single family homes and mix in some three-story townhomes and apartment buildings.

"This is not going to work for the city of Berkley, this is not us," said resident Rachel Piacentini.

Piacentini has owned her Berkley home on Oxford Street south of 12 Mile for years. She's active on a new neighborhood Facebook page called "Berkley Residents Against Rezoning."

"The city's planning commission's logic is that we need all different kinds of residential for all kinds of income families," Piacentini said. "We have that. Berkley has small bungalows like my house, it's a 900-square foot house. It's right next to a 2,000 square-foot colonial. We have exactly what people need."

But the Planning Commission says Berkley is at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting young singles and seniors.

"This is a competitive disadvantage from a national level," said Amy Vansen of the planning commission. "Because millennials, young workers that want to move to the city of Detroit and cannot afford it or don't want to maintain a single family home, they can't move in. And that is something that is an issue as well as seniors. We're all going to get old and sometimes you can't maintain your house."

Eleven Mile and Woodward is one area under consideration. The city has outlined neighborhoods that could be rezoned and is now asking residents for input in an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. June 21 at the Berkley Community Center. Nothing has been approved until city council okays the plan. And if it is approved, the city informational website says:

"The city of Berkley will not bulldoze anyone's homes for the Eminent Domain. The decision to sell private property will always remain between a willing seller (property owner) and willing buyer (developer)."

The planning commission holds a public hearing, will submit a recommendation and the last step would be the city council would have to approve it.