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Royal Oak City Commission approves contested apartment development

Residents ask Royal Oak, Michigan, to reconsider apartment complex
Residents ask Royal Oak, Michigan, to reconsider apartment complex 02:29

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) — A controversial Royal Oak apartment complex will be built despite the protests of hundreds of residents. 

At its Monday night meeting, the city commission unanimously voted in support of the development.

Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier said the building will provide more affordable housing in the city, which will help many of the people who may work in Royal Oak but can't afford to buy a home there. However, some residents have protested the development, saying they are OK with an apartment building, but not one as big as the one the city approved. 

One of their biggest concerns is the added traffic.

"It's an absolute nightmare dumping 60 to 80 vehicles on this teeny tiny little intersection," said Royal Oak resident Carolyn Martz.

Martz lives by the future apartment building, which will be located at Rochester Road and Genesee Avenue near 14 Mile Road. It is the site of a former bank.

"This is not good for the area. Stick to the zoning. They could even do two stories, 24 units. You wouldn't hear a peep out of us," said Martz.

She and other residents said the lot is too small for the planned three-and-a-half-story, 42-unit building and that the site was originally zoned for a smaller property. 

At Monday night's city commission meeting, one person in attendance voiced support for the development, saying it will help Royal Oak teachers, paramedics and servers live closer to their jobs. 

"Building an apartment complex that will house more than 40 people, couples, or families, should be something that Royal Oak is celebrating, not opposing. Because it means that we have more affordable and attainable homes for the people who make our city run," they said. 

However, a group of Royal Oak residents have been vocal in their opposition to the building. 

"These are the streetwalkers that walk the street with me, delivered all the petitions, delivered all the flyers twice," said resident Rudy Stuglin.

He said they've gotten around 300 signatures of people against the build. 

Former Royal Oak City Attorney and Commissioner Charles Semchena said the city is siding with developers over residents. 

"The sad part of it is they listen to the money, but they don't listen to the neighbors," said Semchena.

Fournier said the building will benefit the city.

"If any one of my kids grows up to be a letter carrier, school teacher, and they can't find a place, shame on us," he said.

The group opposed to the apartment building said it is going to consider what next steps it can take and whether legal action is possible. 

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