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City Council approves all mayor's re-appointments
By Dan DuChene
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   3:42 a.m.

Jone Coleman, president of downtown business LookInTheAttic, shares his thoughts with City Council about the discussion and procedure taken to pass mayoral re-appointments, which he was being considered for the Downtown Development Authority.

After much procedure, Ypsilanti City Council approved six mayoral re-appointments to city boards and committees Tuesday, including the two postponed from earlier...read more

Council postpones two reappointments
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   4:57 p.m.

Two of Ypsilanti's volunteer board members were not reappointed on schedule Tuesday night, owing to a 4-2 vote by City Council to delay the appointments until...read more

Downtown properties to be rehabilitated
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   10:40 a.m.

The three properties located at 120, 122 and 124 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti will soon be rebuilt into commercial and office space and loft apartments, thanks to a planned $1.7 million investment by developers.

Three recently-vacated properties in downtown Ypsilanti, two of them condemned, will soon be renovated owing to recent purchase by a local development company and...read more

Ypsilanti Township authorizes litigation against Liberty Square
By Mark Tower
May. 28, 2010   ·   6:53 p.m.

Many of the homes in the Liberty Square complex on Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township are already boarded and ready for foreclosure sale. All 151 units, some of which are still occupied, will be condemned Tuesday, Ypsilanti Township has resolved.

Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more

Ford plant granted tax exemption by township
By Mark Tower
May. 24, 2010   ·   5:44 p.m.

Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plan, located at the intersection of Textile and Bridge Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will soon be the new home for production of Ford's Electric Focus batteries, formerly produced in Mexico.

New machines and equipment will soon be wheeled into Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township as it begins manufacturing a line of batteries for the new global...read more

Bike path may dead-end at Whittaker Road

Haabs

Housing developer granted amendment to deed, will offer better financing

By Mark Tower
Apr. 22, 2010    ·    3:55 p.m.


-Updated: 8:24 p.m.-


A proposed bike path along Whittaker Road in Ypsilanti Township may now dead-end, owing to a decision Tuesday by the township board to not authorize the purchase of three property easements.

The path was originally planned to run from Ford Heritage Park on Textile Road and hook up with a path running north along Whittaker Road. Township officials had hoped they could build the path while the Road Commission was creating a traffic roundabout at Whittaker and Stony Creek Roads, though that may no longer be possible if the private property easements are not purchased.

Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo said two of the properties, owned by Trustee Darcus Sizemore, with easements valued at $2,200 each, have been confirmed, but an easement for Larry Evans' property at 5517 Whittaker Road, valued at $3,100, may not be available for purchase.

Voting to approve the purchases were Stumbo, Clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe, and Treasurer Larry Doe. Voting against the purchases were Trustees Jean Hall Currie, Stan Eldridge, and Mike Martin. Sizemore abstained from voting in the issue, since she owns two of the properties in question. The motion to approve the easement purchases failed because the vote was tied 3-3.

Martin said his dissenting vote was not a sign that he doesn't like bike paths, but a reflection that the township needs to be especially careful with its money right now, especially if the purchase will not create a complete, finished bike path.

“If we could have got the whole thing through, I would have considered it differently,” he said. “It doesn't make sense to pay for the other two if we can't get the third.”

Stumbo said the township had similar problems with property owners declining to sell easements when building bike paths on Hitchingham and Merritt Roads. In those and other cases, she said, property owners become more willing to sell the easements after a path ends on either side of their property and people walk over their property anyway.

Evans, who has lived in the home on Whittaker Road for 25 years, said he has seen many changes in the surrounding properties over the years. When traffic increased on the road, he saw a great increase in litter, and has also seen the construction of the civic center and district library near his home that was once a rural, residential neighborhood.

The main reason he did not consent to sell the easement, Evans said, is that the safety of his home could be threatened and trash on his property could multiply if there is a bike path there. The house has been broken into twice, he said, and he fears the path could be too inviting for potential burglars.

"Frankly, this bike path is just easier for a getaway; it just makes it easier for them to vandalize our house again," Evans said.

The cost to his property, he said, through increased litter and crime, is not worth the benefits a bike path would bring to the area.

"I'm not saying I want a million dollars for that easement. It could be a detriment to my household," Evans said. "I just don't see a bike path being that important."

Residential Services Director Jeff Allen said the path would allow residents along Textile and adjoining neighborhoods to have non-motorized access to businesses along Whittaker Road as well as connect existing paths to destinations like Ford Heritage Park.

“I think it is still the road commission's intent to put in a bike path there,” Allen said. “We want to make it safe for people to walk and bike around this roundabout that is going in.”

There is already a bike path on the east side of Whittaker running from the library south to Textile, and Allen said the township hopes in the future to connect all existing paths to provide access all the way to Ford Heritage Park.

Since the township will not be purchasing easements from the three homeowners near the intersection of Whittaker and Stony Creek, Allen said the Washtenaw County Road Commission could attempt to exercise eminent domain, citing issues to public safety, to force sale of the properties.

County Highway Engineer Roy Townsend said the Road Commission has no plan to exercise eminent domain as of yet, and would not do so unless the township requests it and the Commission approved such an action.

That process, Townsend said, usually takes between six and 12 months to complete and usually involves negotiating prices with the property owners. If an agreement cannot be reached, he said, a judge would rule on whether or not to give “right of entry” to the road commission and could ultimately decide how much the property is worth and if the need qualifies for eminent domain.

Townsend said extending the bike path would be cheaper to do during the construction phase of the roundabout, which he said is running on schedule for the target completion date of July 30.

“We are trying to continue to work with the property owners,” Allen said, “trying to convince him to see the light.”

Developer can offer better financing with amended master deed
Creekside Village South, a housing development near Merritt and Tuttle Hill Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will be able to offer home buyers lower down payments through Federal Housing Administration Financing, owing to Tuesday's board approval of an amendment to the master deed held by developer Lombardo Homes.

Trustees approved the amendment contingent on certain conditions being met by the housing developer, including drafting and signing a development agreement with the township and paying all outstanding 2009 taxes due to the township.

A representative from Lombardo Homes asked that trustees allow some time for the development agreement, which will outline how the developer and township will work together, to be drafted and signed by the business and the township. They agreed to amend the deed immediately, which would allow the more inexpensive financing to be offered right away, but will only grant five more building permits to Lombardo Homes until the agreement is ratified.

Township Attorney Douglas Winters said he had no problem with the five-permit limit, which would allow Lombardo Homes to continue building and selling houses in Creekside Village South while the agreement is being written and considered.

“This allows you to reach out to more potential people who could qualify for mortgages that could not before,” Winters said.

Lombardo Homes reported that the housing development has five or six permits currently under construction and already sold to future homeowners. The five-permit limit will apply to additional lots that have not yet been sold or developed.

Lombardo Homes also requested Tuesday that the township allow them to re-draw some of the property division lines within another nearby development, Creekside Village East.

Trustees voted unanimously to allow this change, which will create 13 groups of two 90-foot lots instead of three 60-foot lots, as long as the developer pays the township for a streetlight development project in the development and drafts and signs the same development agreement discussed for Creekside Village South.

Winters said the amount owed to the township for the streetlight project was about $27,000, though other trustees acknowledged that since this number was an old estimate, it may now be higher.

Other township business
In other business, the township approved the use of township property for an environmental impact study, singed an agreement with Oakland County allowing township firefighters to work on a collaborative search and rescue team, approved changes to the township's budget, singed an agreement with Detroit Edison to provide street lighting in the Holmes Road Phase III development and set a public hearing for Ford Motor Company's abatement of the Rawsonville plant.

The township granted permission for the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) to carry out ecological assessments on five township properties Tuesday, part of the group's Bioreserve Project, which sets out assess and report on ecological values of properties along the Huron River.

Assessments of the five township-owned properties are expected to take place on June 30, July 3, July 7, and July 10. The HRWC is seeking general volunteers to assist with assessments, plant identification experts, and landowners along the Bioreserve Project area. Those wishing to volunteer or find out more about the project are welcomed to contact ecologist Kris Olsson at (734) 769-5123 extension 607 or via email at kolsson@hrwc.org.

Ypsilanti Township firefighters will be legally allowed to drive Oakland County vehicles when participating on the collaborative Southeastern Michigan Urban Search and Rescue Team, owing to a decision by trustees Tuesday to sign an inter-local agreement with Oakland County.

The township approved three increases to the 2010 budget Tuesday totaling $211,945.89. Increases in the budget for the fire fund of $14,300, in the Bike Path, Sidewalk and Recreation fund of $30,610.75, and in the Bike Path, Sidewalk, Recreation, and General Operations fund of $57,035.14 were all drawn from surpluses in the 2009 budget. Moving the money from the 2009 budget to the 2010 budget results from projects that were initially planned last year and postponed until 2010, according to Roe.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) fund budget was increased $110,000 for 2010, since additional grant dollars were approved for NSP projects that were not expected when the original budget was approved.

The township's trustees voted to enter into an agreement with Detroit Edison to provide and maintain 25 streetlights along Holmes Road in the township. The estimated construction cost of the streetlights is $118,595.39, and annual lamp charges are estimated at $7,795.49.

Trustees set a public hearing to receive comments and concerns from township citizens regarding Ford Motor Company's abatement of the Rawsonville plant located. It was reported by the Detroit Free Press in April that Ford sent a letter to employees outlining its plan to make the plant into a supplier of hybrid car batteries.

The public hearing is set for the next Board of Trustees meeting at 7 p.m. May 18.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Larry Evans, received by the Citizen after the original article was already published.

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