Plainfield Township defended its decision Tuesday to push forward on development of property off Kuttshill Drive, despite an ongoing lawsuit with frustrated citizens.

The township voted to rezone the 115 acres to a planned unit development, which allows more homes per acre. Plainfield Township has already issued 85 permits to build housing units in 2017.

The owner, Kuttshill Development LLC., plans to build 227 units at what it calls Ravines at Inwood. More than 2,000 residents signed a petition for a referendum on the rezoning, citing traffic issues and overcrowding of schools.

The township's clerk threw out the petition in July because the petition was filed on the incorrect forms -- and the people sued to stop the rezoning. A judge upheld the decision to throw out the petition on Aug. 4.

"Even if there were 5,000 signatures, as a practical matter, the petition was deficient," said attorney Jeff Sluggett, who is representing Plainfield Township.

The group added a complaint to the motion for preliminary injunction on Aug. 22, saying they were not given enough notice of an initial hearing on the property on Jan. 24.

Sluggett said the notice for the planning commission hearing was three days late, but there was no material prejudice involved.

"I think the township is genuinely disappointed that it's being portrayed as having an interest, somehow, in supporting a particular project," he said. "As public officials, they can only act with the authority they have."

A traffic study showed the current road network can handle the increase in cars after development, but the township is still working with the Kent County Road Commission and MDOT to explore alternative traffic safety options, said Plainfield Township Superintendent Cameron Van Wyngarden.

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