Development plan prompts protests
Redico Senior Vice President Kenneth Till at Northville board meeting
Sep. 24, 2016 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
Frustrated Northville Township residents packed Township Hall during the regular board of trustees meeting last week expressing multiple concerns regarding a proposed development at the 53-acre former Scott Prison site at Five Mile and Beck roads. In 2012, township officials worked out a transaction in cooperation with the state and help from State Rep. Kurt Heise to acquire the property for a final cost of $1.
The mixed-use development, proposed by Redico, including a 170,000 square-foot Meijer store with a gas station and garden center, condominiums, town homes, a theater, hotel and other retail stores, was the main item on the meeting agenda before the standing-room-only crowd. Despite the vocal concerns of residents, township officials approved the Planned Unit Development (PUD) of the site by a 4 to 3 vote. Trustees Samantha Heath and Mindy Hermann, along with Township Clerk Sue Hillebrand cast the dissenting votes on the plan while Supervisor Bob Nix, Treasurer Marjorie Banner and trustees Marv Gans and Fred Shadko were in favor of the development.
A letter of intent to develop the property was accepted by township officials last year and members of the township planning commission approved the plan by a 5 to 1 vote lastweek after a 5-1⁄2-hour contentious meeting.
During the board meeting last Thursday, residents expressed concerns regarding the traffic congestion already experienced at the site, the threat of increased crime and the burden on the township infrastructure and public safety inherent with a 24-hour grocery store, a theater, 200 mid-rise condominiums and 78 town homes in the area that is the main traffic artery to the Salem Township landfill.
The development, dubbed The Village at Northville, was characterized as “upscale with contemporary architecture” by Redico architect Sue Neumann. That architecture was criticized by residents who told officials, “It is not the style we are looking for.”
Irate residents accused the members of the board and officials of failing to perform “due diligence” in approving the project and said, “We’re going to make Haggerty and Eight Mile come to our doorstep.” One resident noted that there are 400 cars daily in the nearby technical center which causes serious traffic congestion and this plan would add to that problem.
“This is not a strip center. There will be a community area for community events with sidewalks all along Beck and Five Mile. The Meijer will be 50,000 square feet smaller than the one on Eight Mile,” Neumann continued.
Nix told the crowd that the development would leverage more than $4 million in improvements from Wayne County and that while there is a traffic problem on Beck Road, the county currently has no obligation to fix it.
“This development is crucial to the MITC” (Michigan International Technology Center). He said that the location was clearly a “commercial corner” and that the township could not “flip” the land. He added that there is some contamination at the land and with this proposal, the developer would pay for part of the remediation and a brownfield plan would pay a portion. “It could be anywhere from $500 to $5 million,” he said.
After the meeting, Township Manager Chip Snider said Redico’s final cost for the land was still under negotiation as PUD details are not finalized and dependent on the final site plan.
“We hope to have about $5 million in seed money left when we’re all done and be able to demolish the old psychiatric hospital. However, under our agreement, the state will take 40 percent,” he said, referring to an agreement with the state that stipulates when title passed to the township they could not exercise claims on the land if it were not developed for a public purpose. That has since changed and a 60/40 percent arrangement is in place.
Snider attributed the unusually large assembly of residents at the meeting to a “well funded Canton attorney” who represents a Plymouth Township business affected by the Redico development, including the nearby Shell Gas Station on the south side of Five Mile Road.
Photos © Don Howard/Associated Newspapers
Concept drawings: Redico / Northville Township