Township faces sanctions on Aug. 15
Aug. 8, 2014 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
Developer Plymouth Haggerty Associates, LLC, agreed last week to allow Plymouth Township 14 additional days to comply with a consent judgment that will allow construction of a new LA Fitness health club on Ann Arbor Road near Haggerty.
Last week, Plymouth Township officials met in a three-hour closed session with outside legal counsel, Timothy Wilhelm of Johnson, Rosati, Schultz and Joppich P.C., to strategize legal options following a warning by Judge Brian Sullivan of the Wayne County Circuit Court that the township breech of the consent agreement was “indefensible.” The township faces sanctions and penalties if no out of court agreement is reached with the developer.
The developer claims that the latest round of delays have lasted more than a year and have caused unnecessary expenditures of more than $100,000.
Alan M. Green, the attorney representing Plymouth Haggerty Associates, LLC, the plaintiff in the suit against the township, told the court last month that the LA Fitness facility is an authorized use in the Plymouth Towne Center development but that “one township official” is unreasonably delaying progress and approvals, calling those actions, “nitpicking and abuse of discretion that the administrative approval provisions of the Consent Judgment were intended to avoid.”
At issue is the placement of the 126,000 square foot building within the shopping center envelope.
Township defense attorneys argued the unnamed board member wants a grocery store and doesn’t like a “stand-alone” building, but wants the building connected to the existing structures on the site. They describe the developer’s plan as a “major reconfiguration.”
Green said the developer strongly disagrees and referred the court to the consent judgment which did not dictate specifications of the fitness building.
“The consent judgment did not dictate a specific design, nor did it contemplate a precise building footprint fixed in stone.” Green said.
“The planning consultant likes it, the planning director likes it, the planning commission and community development director support it…” Green told the court.
The developer’s attorney also argued that approval by the town- ship board of trustees is not required for the proposed health club under the terms of the consent judgment which was signed and approved by a circuit court judge.
“We’re acting in good faith by allowing them to adjourn, we just want to get going on this project,” Green said of the most recent delay. Sullivan had previously allowed the township 21 days to comply with the consent judgment with the caution that the position of the township was untenable. The judge made it clear during the hearing last month that the consent agreement between Plymouth-Haggerty Associates, LLC, the owner of Plymouth Towne Center and the township, is “operable” and the objections and arguments against the construction of an LA Fitness were without merit.
The only objection to the plan Wilhelm could offer to the court was that the LA Fitness is now on the corner of the complex rather than in the center.
Sullivan said the agreement, originally signed 11 years ago and revised repeatedly to meet ongoing demands of the township, required the plan for the fitness facility be “consistent” not “identical.”
In the legal response to the motion to support the consent judgment, township attorneys denied the municipality caused delays or has been unwilling to act on the consent judgment, despite more than a decade of wrangling.
Plymouth Township officials have scheduled another closed session to discuss the issue, prior to the Aug. 15 scheduled court date when Sullivan will rule on sanctions against the township for failure to comply with the court ordered judgment.