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Gracewood Split

The owners of residential property at 340 Gracewood Drive, East Grand Rapids, have proposed to split their property into two lots, for the construction of a home on the new lot. The proposed new lot is part lawn, part wooded wetland with a stream running through.  The owners learned the City of EGR had determined there was a buildable lot next to their home. A builder is interested in developing the property if it is split by the current owners.


The proposed lot split is along a curve of Reed's Lake Trail, just north of EGR's Griffith's Park, an undeveloped, protected, triangular wooded area with a wetlands at Pioneer Club. The stream drains to Reeds Lake via the city drain system.  There no longer are stakes marking the proposed property lines.


Under EGR's Municipal ordinance, the lot split requires approval by the City Commission. 


The lots on Gracewood require 100 ft of street frontage. 

·       The split proposal is 125.5 ft for 340 Gracewood 

·       99.5 ft for a new buildable lot.  

·       The remaining 74.75 ft is lowland/stream/wetland area.

Zoning:  front setback - minimum of 30 ft.  Rear setback -  minimum of 25 ft.

·       340 Gracewood front setback:  50-60 ft.  Rear: ~50 ft

·       New home/building envelope front setback: 50 ft.  Rear setback: 25 ft.

·       A 5 ft easement is along the rear of each property, within the rear setback.

** Ask commissioners to increase the setback of the building envelope to 50 ft---there is a larger wetlands just behind the properties.

** Request new home/building envelope front setback of 45 ft. and rear setback of 50 ft.


Zoning: side yards are a combined total of 25 ft with a minimum of 10 ft on one side.

·       340 Gracewood is proposed as 9.1 ft (fixed) and 20 ft. on the south 

·       The new building envelope (for a new home) is 15 ft from 340 Gracewood property line and 10 ft on downhill/south side.


** Ask commissioners to increase the distance between new building envelope and the wetlands frontage:

·       reduce 340 Gracewood to 120 ft frontage

·       adjust setback of the new envelope to North: 10 ft., South: 15 ft  

The result would increase the wetlands frontage to 79.75 ft.


More importantly, the new building would be 10 ft further from the wetlands.


At a public hearing on April 16, the owners and developer Joel Peterson made a presentation in favor of the project. Many neighbors appeared at the hearing or wrote letters to object. The objections were based on the likely adverse effects on wildlife, tree cover, drainage and water quality. The developer proposes to build on whatever portion of the new lot is not a protected wetland. 

No zoning variance is currently requested.


The Commission tabled the motion to split, pending review of a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) "Wetland Delineation." 


The Mayor and Commissioners advised that in all likelihood they would approve the lot split, based on the City ordinance****. 

The earliest the Commission could take up the motion again will be at the first June meeting, June 4, 2018 6 pm.


The DEQ regional office has not been contacted by the property owner, or Joel Peterson, builder as of May 20.  An environmental survey company did perform an on-site visit, flagging features.

The DEQ needs 2-3 weeks to process a wetlands review after an application and attached environmental survey information is submitted by a property owner.  


Property owners within 500 ft receive written notice.  City of EGR sends email notices of meeting agendas to those on their list.  

*Add your email to the EGR notification list, please.

**Detailed application is on April 16 City Commission meeting Agenda  Page 49/203, maps begin on page 57/203


****The ordinance requires consideration of specific zoning requirements and "the existence of floodplain areas, wetlands, drainage courses, and terrain and the ability to develop building sites on each parcel without unreasonable disturbance of such features." 


The neighbors continue to object on the basis the unique wetland and drainage courses should be protected, these features are part of the Reeds Lake Trail walking/biking/jogging experience north of the lake.


Additional note:  construction on this property will increase runoff, making the stream more prone to overflow it's banks. 


Bigger picture, it is time to reconsider EGR's practice of enabling developers to identify "building envelopes" for homes on every possible property in the City.


Also, the city needs to make information easily available for those who want to protect their woodlands or wetlands.


For additional information, contact Mike Lewis at

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