By Rosemary K. Otzman
The Van Buren Township Local Development Finance Authority met at 2 p.m. Nov. 17, mainly to go into closed-door session with attorneys handling its problems with Visteon. This was the LDFA’s first meeting since May.
The LDFA closed session lasted about an hour. The township board had gone into closed-door session the week before also to discuss an attorney’s opinion letter on Visteon.
Present at the closed LDFA meeting were Keveh Kashef of Clark Hill law firm and township attorney Patrick McCauley.
Kashef has been working on a resolution to the township’s Visteon bond problem for more than a year. The township had pledged its full faith and credit to bonds to help build Visteon Village and now the tax income will not be enough for bond payments.
During Visteon’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, the township and Visteon entered into an agreement and mutual release, dated Jan. 25, 2010. At the time of the agreement both parties understood and acknowledged that when comparing projected tax revenues with the township’s obligations under the bonds, a financial shortfall would occur.
Kashef’s Sept. 9, 2013 letter to Visteon’s President and CEO Timothy D. Leuliette stated: “The township has completed a comprehensive review of its obligations under bonds, as well as its projected tax revenues, and is confident not only that a shortfall is inevitable but that the shortfall will occur in 2018.”
The attorneys are working to avoid the shortfall that could leave VBT taxpayers picking up the tab on the hefty bond payments.
39545 Ecorse Road
In the 50-minute open part of its meeting, the LDFA spent time discussing the best way to sell 39545 Ecorse Road, a 1.16-acre parcel that the LDFA bought when Ecorse Road was widened. It had to come up with the right of way and ended up with a little too much property.
Darrell Fecho, an employee of McKenna Associates who was filling in at the VBT Building and Planning Department, explained that this is the only parcel in VBT that the LDFA owns.
He said the township was approached by the owner of the parcel at the corner of Ecorse and Hannan roads, Odish Jarbou, who thought he could use the LDFA parcel for wetland or floodplain mitigation. This would give him more space for buildings on his small corner parcel.
The LDFA parcel also abuts Roy Roeser’s parcel.
“In terms of the parcel itself, it’s not going to do the LDFA any good,” Fecho said. He said the owner on the corner would enter into a conservation easement. He said the parcel is of no value except to the two abutting property owners.
After much discussion on many options, the LDFA decided to:
• Get an appraisal;
• Keep that information closed;
• Once the appraisal is in, seek bids from the general public and surrounding property owners, with and without the addition of a conservation easement; and
• Have the township building department formulate a recommendation to the LDFA.
LDFA member Charles Covington said, “Make it as transparent as we can.”
At its May 13 meeting the LDFA directed VBT Director of Planning and Economic Development Arthur Mullen to get an appraisal on the property, but he didn’t do it and left the township. At that meeting Mullen had recommended selling the property to Jarbou for $5,000.
In other business at the Monday meeting, the LDFA:
• Introduced the LDFA members, since there had been some changes. Present were Chairman Michael Dotson, Leonard Armstrong, Charles Covington, Chris Hayes, Bryce Kelley (new representative from Wayne County), Robert Carlesso and James Williams from Van Buren Public Schools, Supervisor Combs, and Fecho (a temporary VBT consultant). Doug Peters was absent and Richard Gavalier, although on the printed roll call, no longer works for Ricardo. The LDFA is waiting for a replacement from Ricardo;
• Approved the new meeting dates for 2015. The LDFA meets bi-monthly;
• Approved the amended 2014 budget and proposed 2015 budget; and
• Heard John Delaney give a recommendation from the audience that the LDFA market the Grace Lake area. Kelley said the county is marketing the site and, “We chase down site selectors for the businesses they represent.”
By Rosemary K. Otzman