[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
SG-W:/ Saline Reporter on Pittsfield open meeting on Newmarket settlement proposals
- Subject: SG-W:/ Saline Reporter on Pittsfield open meeting on Newmarket settlement proposals
- From: Rober98@aol.com
- Date: Sun, 23 Dec 2001 15:36:38 EST
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the Saline Reporter article on the recent meeting concerning
Newmarket settlement proposals:
The Saline Reporter The Milan-News Leader online at
Trustees Divulge Options To Settle Newmarket Legal Threat
By Renee Lapham Collins, Associate Editor December 20, 2001
Some 530 acres in Pittsfield Township, initially slated for a new type of
urban development, have yielded instead two years of controversy and the
threat of a lawsuit.
Now, the Pittsfield Township Board must decide what it wants to do about it.
At its Tuesday night meeting, trustees presented several options for settling
the matter out of court.
Supervisor James Walter told the audience of about 50 people that the
township had received so many calls about the status of the controversial
project, "we wanted to present where we are in our negotiations with
Clerk Christina Lirones summarized the negotiations that have taken place
between the board's negotiation committee and the developer of the proposed
project, Real Estate Interest Group of Bloomfield Hills. Attorneys
representing the township, the developer, and the township's legal insurer
all have been part of the discussions, according to Lirones.
Treasurer Robert Skrobola, Walter, and Lirones comprise the committee, while
Bruce Laidlaw and a second legal counsel from Foster Swift represent the
township. Jerry Lax is representing the developer.
Lirones said the property had been appraised and had come in at $7.3 million.
The developer, she said, rejected the township's offer to buy the parcel for
that amount, and instead wanted more than $14 million. The committee, she
indicated, decided that $8.5 million would be as high as the township would
go to purchase the property. "The developer didn't reject the offer
completely out of hand, but counter offered with an alternative site plan for
864 single-family homes on the property; or to sell all of the property
except that piece known as the "Harwood" parcel to the township for $10.4.
The developer would then build 250 homes on the 105-acre parcel, which,
Lirones explained, is a triangular-shaped area bounded by Michigan Ave.,
Textile Rd. and Campbell Rd. "If there is a settlement, it could be anywhere
from a (downsized Newmarket) in a different configuration or some options for
developing some of the property and selling the township some of the
property," she said.
Among the concerns voiced by residents were increased traffic caused by more
people using Michigan Ave. and where the township would get the money to
purchase the property from the developer. Skrobola said that the township had
a number "revenue streams" from which it could raise the money, including the
park millage, state and federal grants, and a short-term bond issue.
Al Paas, who was ousted from the township Planning Commission when the new
board took office in November 2000, said that he felt purchasing the property
would "double taxes and more, no matter how they are spread out." He pointed
to the township's current general operating budget, which is about $8.5
million, and indicated that the township doesn't need 530 acres to meet its
requirements for a new storage building, senior center, or rec center. Paas
also singled out Lirones as possibly having a conflict of interest, since
part of her property is adjacent to the 530 acres.
"This would be a tremendous economic blow to the township to save this
property," Paas said. "When will we get an idea of where the money will come
Skrobola said that there is potential for bonding, and that the township
would need to hold an election so that the public could vote on it, but that
there are "other sources" of money available, based on how the property would
Terry Bertram, also ousted from the Planning Commission in 2000, was
outspoken and blunt in his comments to the board. "Tina, you sat on this side
at many meetings and (accused the previous board) of conflict of interest,"
he said to Lirones. "I'm not accusing, but I think you have to look at your
own property to see if you have (a conflict of interest).
"Whether the property is $8.5 million, $10 million or $14 million, the
township can't afford it and the taxpayers can't afford it. We are in a
recession, and state revenue sharing funds are going to be down. I say fight
it out in court-litigate it. Think it through before you settle it with
taxpayers' money. There are people who are losing their jobs and this would
be an extra burden. This is not the time to increase discretionary spending.
This is a time to tighten purse strings, not loosen them."
He also told the board that he felt it needed to test its assumptions. "Don't
slip into conjecture here," he said. "Property taxes are currently being paid
on the land. If the township buys the property, there will be no property
taxes paid because the township would own it. It's really not clear which way
it would cost more. You need to see in the long run which will cost the
taxpayers the most."
Dave Holden, a resident of Hidden Creek, echoed Bertram's opinions, and also
grilled the board on a number of issues that he felt had not been made clear.
"Why wasn't the referendum held? Why has the township been holding back?" he
Lirones said that the board didn't want the expense of a special election,
and decided it could wait until the next general election, which will be the
August primary. "Well, it seems that when you're talking $8 million to $14
million, the cost of a special election is lost," Holden pointed out. "I say
let the people decide."
Not all of the residents opposed the idea of the purchase. Janice Payeur, a
lifetime resident of the township, said she "applauded" the board for doing
what it is doing.
"I want less development, and a board that will follow the master plan," she
said. "I don't want the rapid build up of the township to continue."
Mary Lou Blackman said that she, too, was happy with the board's proposal.
"I'm just looking at the cost if (the developer) gets it," she said. "We'll
be paying for busing, roads, water, drainage. It will cost a fortune."
Skrobola cautioned that even if the referendum succeeds, it doesn't mean the
project won't occur. "We would only stop what has been blocked by the board,"
he said. "We wouldn't stop development altogether. There is nothing to stop
them from coming forward with another plan. That's another strong argument
for the township to buy the land."
Walter said in response to a question about whether the township would sell
off any property it didn't need-if it decided to purchase the land-that
"selling off parcels isn't out of the question. "We are a fiscally
"Are we better off (buying the land) or not (buying land)," he said. "It's a
complicated land deal and we may sell off any surplus land.
"We will decide what's best for the community and if you don't like it, you
can vote us out of office."
Online at http://www.salinereporter.com/news/R04FJRC.asp?ID=182
smartgrowth-washtenaw: Internet List and Forum for issues relating to
sprawl, smart growth, and preservation of the quality of life in Washtenaw
Postings to: email@example.com For info, send
email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a one-line message body of "info