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SG-W:/ AANews on Pittsfield open meeting on Newmarket Tuesday

Here's the AANews article today on the Pittsfield Township board meeting 
Tuesday evening concerning the "planned Newmarket development opposed by many 
Pittsfield Township neighbors": 


Here's the full article:

>> Should township buy out project? 
Purchase would downsize the planned Newmarket development opposed by many 
Pittsfield Township neighbors. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Pittsfield Township residents on Tuesday debated the wisdom of settling the 
Newmarket suit by buying the land in question.

The proposed purchase - $8.5 million - is the Board of Trustees' offer for 
settling the suit filed by the Bloomfield Hills development company that 
wants to build Newmarket, a 1,143-home and commercial-use development, on 530 
acres in the central part of the township.

Board members said the township's appraiser valued the land at $7.3 million.

The developer, Real Estate Interest Group, and owners of the land offered 
instead to build a more conventional 864-home development or sell most of the 
land for $10.4 million while retaining about 100 acres to build 250 homes.

Trustees said Tuesday the land owners and developers earlier offered to sell 
all of the property for $14.1 million.

The suit was filed by the developer earlier this year to stop a 
citizen-initiated referendum aimed at blocking the project after the township 
granted a rezoning of the land.

It is unclear if and when the Township Board might come to a settlement 
agreement with the developers, but board members sought the public debate 
because of the strong interest in the Newmarket project.

Those at Tuesday's meeting were split on whether the township should buy the 
land and the most contentious part of the debate was over how to pay for it.

"What I heard were ... frankly, weasel words as to where the money would come 
from," said Terry Bertram, a former Planning Commission member who voted to 
rezone the property for the Newmarket project.

"This township cannot afford it. The taxpayers cannot afford it," Bertram 

Mary Lee Blackmon supported the board's offer.

"I think we better start looking at what it's going to cost us if (the 
developers) get that land," Blackmon said.

That was a point to which Township Supervisor James Walter repeatedly 
returned during the debate, arguing that the township must weigh the expense 
of providing utilities and other infrastructure, and its own future land 
needs, against the immediate cost of buying the property.

"This is an expensive proposition, but also allowing a developer in there may 
be a more expensive proposition," Walter said.

Treasurer Robert Skrobola said money to buy the land would likely come from a 
combination of existing parks and public safety millages (if a new public 
safety building were built on part of the land), the township's enterprise 
fund, possible grants from sources such as Washtenaw County's open space 
acquisition fund, and by selling bonds.

Some of the residents also took the township to task for not developing more 
recreational facilities, such as soccer fields, on land it already owns and 
for not fighting the suit in court, and some said the public needed to vote 
on any decision to buy the land. <<

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