By Diane Madigan
Independent Special Writer
After discussion at its regular meeting Jan. 28, the Van Buren Township Downtown Development authority voted to allocate $17,000 for front sidewalks at the Tucker Insurance Agency’s proposed new building.
The discussion began with a letter sent from Tucker Insurance to the DDA asking for financial aid for a water main
DDA Executive Director Susan Ireland had sent the letter to attorney Robert Schwartz and Wade Trim engineer Dave Nummer for their opinions.
“The attorney’s recommendation is that funding a water main is not in keeping with what they would normally do because of who it benefits,” Ireland said. “It benefits, the property owner, the water department and the neighborhood which is not in the district.”
Attending the meeting were architect Wayde Hoppe, property owner Thomas Tucker, and Harlan Davenport of Davenport Brothers Construction.
Hoppe presented drawings of the proposed 5,700-square-foot building.
According to VBT ordinances, Tucker has an obligation to create a loop to the water system on the site to prevent water from stagnating, providing fire protection with two additional hydrants, and better flow.
Engineer Nummer said water department has agreed to pay for 250 feet to connect the system from Jeannette to the Tucker property leaving the developer to cover the costs for 752 feet of water main.
Nummer could not provide a cost of the water main, but Davenport estimated the water main cost to the township as roughly $25,000 and Tucker an additional $69,000, with costs being negotiable depending on soil factors and permits.
According to Davenport, sidewalks on the South Service Drive site are also required, estimating the 1,000 feet of sidewalk costs at $16,881.
The DDA agreed with the attorney that a water main did not benefit the district. Director Ron Blank said the DDA had conversations a couple of years ago about financially helping businesses locate within the DDA district.
“I know what’s coming down the road and the State is going to ask, Did it benefit the entire DDA district?” Ireland said. “In the past, we have said ‘No’ to a lot of people.”
Director Mark Laginess said if there’s not a water pressure issue, the benefit to the district is not as strong.
“But, we have two sidewalk extension projects and would like to see sidewalks extended through the district to improve accessibility,” Laginess said.
“We’ve paid big money to put up a billboard asking people to come here to build,” said Director Ed Miller.
Directors Richter, Bird and Atchinson said this may be setting up a precedent as they all had to pay for their own sidewalks.
Atchinson, said the reason he wanted to be on the DDA was to develop business in Van Buren Township and didn’t see this as a bad precedent.
Belleville Road Improvement and Signalization Project
During its one-hour, 10-minute meeting, the DDA also amended the construction engineering estimated costs of the Belleville Road Improvement and Signalization Project to include inspection and material testing by Wade Trim instead of Wayne County, saving $12,703.
According to engineer Matt Stacey from Wade Trim, Wayne County said it didn’t have the time or the resources to do inspection and material testing and it needed to be a part of Wade Trim’s package.
The DDA approved the revision of engineering costs for construction engineering to include inspection and materials testing according to MDOT requirements, not to exceed $30,000.
Engineer Nummer said normal engineering costs range from 15-20% of the project. When asked by the Independent, Ireland said Wade Trim’s charge for the signalization project is $325,000.
Belleville Road Improvement
The DDA also discussed and adopted a resolution to enter into an agreement with Wayne County for road improvements on Belleville Road from just south of I-94 South Service Drive to Tyler Road.
In the resolution, the DDA agreed to provide $1,200,380 to Wayne County for the DDA’s participation in the total project cost. At the time the agreement is signed, the DDA will provide half of that amount, $600,190, to Wayne County as a working capital advance.
Belleville Road Sidewalk
Ireland reported the township has received the recorded deeds for the sidewalk project on Belleville Road from Tyler Road north to 8701 Belleville Road. Wade Trim has submitted the sidewalk drawing to Wayne County for approval for a spring bid and construction.
Wayne County Zoo Millage
Ireland also reported that the Zoo Authority and the Detroit Zoological Society have filed appeals seeking to recover the tax increment revenues captured by TIFs (DDA and LDFA) dating back to Dec. 1, 2008.
Belleville/Ecorse Road Intersection Landscaping
Ireland said landscaping will be back on the drawing board upon completion of construction of the Belleville Road fence, between Harmony Lane and Sunrise.
“Supervisor Combs had asked to be excused for training of some sort,” said Ireland in explain Combs’ absence from the Jan. 28 meeting.
Combs had registered to attend the Michigan Township Association annual conference in Traverse City Jan. 28-31, but did not show up at either the DDA or the MTA meeting.
Karin LaMothe, executive assistant to Combs and the DDA recording secretary, also was absent from the meeting with no notice being announced.
On Jan. 28, Supervisor Combs had closed the township hall for another snow day.
Also absent and excused from the meeting were Directors Robert Bechtel and Joe Baskin, Jr.
By Diane Madigan