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Residents at center of land dispute; Land annexed into neighboring Livonia??
Topic Started: Nov 25 2007, 03:01 AM (18,953 Views)
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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Residents at center of land dispute
Developer moves families into homes on ex-psychiatric hospital grounds in Northville Twp.

Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News

NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP -- Township officials have sued a developer for moving families into four manufactured homes at the former state psychiatric hospital complex in what the government claims may be a plot to circumvent strict zoning requirements by getting the land annexed into neighboring Livonia.

In return, eight adult residents of the double-wide homes have sued the township because the government is attempting to cancel their voter registrations.

It's the latest battle in the war between Northville Township and Real Estate Interests Group (REIS) and its nearly billion-dollar plan to redevelop the 414-acre site at Seven Mile and Haggerty.

There is no plan to ask for an annexation vote, according to the developer, which bought the land from the state for $31.5 million and sued the township earlier this month, claiming its proposal for 1,000 homes and a village-like commercial center of offices, shops and restaurants is being thwarted by overzealous restrictions.

The township in June approved water and sewer hookups for temporary security offices on the four corners of the property. Officials say renting them as homes is a zoning violation.

"They told us the trailers were for security, and they moved families into them, including children and a pregnant woman," said Township Manager Chip Snider.

"There has been no dispute by either side about the environmental hazards on this property, the crumbling buildings, the tunnels, the medical waste dumps," Snider said.

The developers had earlier asked for a $15 million tax break to tear down buildings and clean up polluted sites, which the township rejected. That rejection prompted part of the developer's earlier lawsuit against the township.

"How can anyone in good conscience put children out there?" Snider said.

Steve Mitchell, spokesman for REIS, said the homes were placed in areas that aren't polluted and the residents have been warned about other dangers.

Although the state kept 24-hour security guards on duty until the sale was finalized in October, REIS has no guards. The township's lawsuit claims "hundreds" of criminal trespass charges have been filed since the hospital closed in 2003 against people attracted by Internet descriptions of the hospital's morgue and legends that the 55-year-old facility is haunted.

Two of the beige double-wide manufactured homes can be seen from the Seven Mile entrance in front of the nine-story main hospital building. Four new mailboxes stand at the entrance drive, which is blocked by a gate that's chained and padlocked shut. The site isn't completely fenced.

Randy Koltyk, who lives in unit No. 1 just off Seven Mile with his wife, Abbie, and two large dogs, said Friday that he isn't authorized to speak. He referred questions to REIS.

"The township approved these homes, and now they are trying throw these people out," said Mitchell. "There is absolutely no plan for annexation at this point. Despite the litigation, we expect it will be settled and at some point we will be building a world-class facility in Northville Township."

The residents aren't employees of REIS or its development partner, Schostak Brothers & Co., Mitchell said. Each couple has signed a 10-month lease and is paying "market rates" for rent, according to Mitchell. He declined to give a figure.

Mitchell said the families are there to provide a 24-hour presence on the property that will discourage trespassers. Although he said the eight adults recently received training from Northville Township Police to form a neighborhood watch group, Snider said his officers declined to give the training.

"We know that the adults were all taken together in a van on Oct. 19 to a Secretary of State's office and registered to vote, using the trailers as their new addresses," said Snider. "Our clerk, Sue Hillenbrand, has taken steps to have their registrations terminated because they can't legally live there."

You can reach Doug Guthrie at (734) 462-2674 or [email protected]


http://detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?A...METRO/711240364
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Fight over hospital site could be lengthy
By Sheena Harrison


Link

Both REIS Northville L.L.C. and Northville Township say they're prepared to fight a lengthy court battle over REIS' plans for the Northville Psychiatric Hospital site.

REIS filed suit last week in Wayne County Circuit Court against the township for the right to build an $800 million mixed-use project, called Highwood, at the site.

The suit, which also seeks damages of more than $25,000, names as defendants the township, its board of trustees as a group and individuals, and the township Planning Commission.

REIS is a joint venture of Bloomfield Hills-based Real Estate Interests Group Inc. and Livonia-based Schostak Bros. & Co. Inc. The developer wants to build 42.2 acres of retail space, medical-office space and 1,000 residential units on the 414-acre site at the southwest corner of Haggerty and Seven Mile roads.

Township Manager Chip Snider said the township thinks the case could take two to three years, and Northville doesn't plan to offer a settlement.

Last week, the case was turned over to the township's insurance carrier, the Livonia-based Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, which has 21 days to respond to the complaint.

"We expect to see (Schostak Bros. co-President Robert) Schostak and his team in the courtroom as soon as possible," Snider said.

REIS filed the suit with the expectation that Northville Township will fight it out in court, Steve Mitchell, chairman of East Lansing-based Mitchell Research & Communications Inc., said in a statement Wednesday. Mitchell represents REIS.

"We fully expected them to want to go to court, given the tenor of the comments they've been making," Mitchell said.

REIS won the state-owned property with a $31.5 million bid during an auction in May 2005 and closed on the parcel late last month.

As Crain's reported in August, the Highwood project has been stalled since April because Northville Township and REIS can't agree on several terms, such as the amount of retail at the site and paying for the cleanup of environmental and medical waste.

Sheena Harrison: (313) 446-0325, [email protected]
“Child Abuse” means different things to different people....
----Randy Liepa 8/9/12
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How exactly would Livonia annex this property?
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Renee Chesney
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Jimid
Jan 9 2008, 01:01 PM
How exactly would Livonia annex this property?

If memory serves me correctly, you may want to dig up information on the long lawsuit that ensued over Pontiac property which I believe was annexed by Bloomfield Township north of Square Lake on Telegraph. They are finally starting to clear the land for a large development of hotels, condos and shopping after a long drawn out lawsuit. I am sure there are several old newspaper articles and such regarding the basis and procedure on how it took place.
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Jimid
Jan 9 2008, 01:01 PM
How exactly would Livonia annex this property?


When/if a vote to annex is approved, only the residents on this piece of property and the residents of Livonia are allowed to vote. The residents of Northville Twp would have no say on this matter.

I believe this is what happened when Pontiac wanted to annex the property from
Bloomfield Twp.
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livoniarocks
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Jimid
Jan 9 2008, 01:01 PM
How exactly would Livonia annex this property?

Any city can annex property from another city if the property is within a certain proxomity (I believe). However, this was talked about a couple of years ago and obviously didn't even come close to happening...I think the media is making a much bigger possibility of this than actually exists.
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Residents muddy Northville land fight
Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News

NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP -- More than four years after the closure of the state's Northville Psychiatric Hospital, its secluded grounds are populated again. But one of the state's wealthiest communities has told its new residents they aren't welcome.

"Some pretty mean and inaccurate things have been said and written about us," said Tammy Brown, who moved with her boyfriend, Dale Hilden, into one of four modular homes placed in October as security outposts overlooking the rambling property and abandoned buildings.

But township officials say the four couples who live in the $650-a-month homes aren't just renters, but pawns in a scheme to put voters on the 414 wooded acres in anticipation of an election to annex the property to neighboring Livonia.

It's the latest charge in a clash between Northville and REIS-Northville, whose $1 billion plan to transform the land into a village-like housing and commercial district known as Highwood has been blocked by the township. The township approved plans last summer but included numerous revisions to reduce its density and scope.

Since then, the fight has sparked lawsuits, dueling public relations firms and claims of dirty tricks.

Developer REIS denies an annexation movement is afoot, but said the township is foolish for refusing its plan to build 1,000 homes, restaurants, shops and offices that could generate $6 million per year in property taxes and 2,500 permanent jobs.

Preparing for long fight
At issue are plans for office buildings up to seven stories high on the site near Haggerty and Seven Mile. The township has never allowed buildings taller than 2 1/2 stories or lots narrower than 70 feet. REIS wants some 60-foot-wide lots.

Those plans conform to zoning rules in Livonia, however, and state law allows owners and occupants of land in townships to ask for annexation into neighboring cities.

"It's safe to say that theoretically, if we were to do it, it certainly would help our budget," Livonia's City Council Vice President Don Knapp said. "There are a lot of tax dollars that could be generated for the schools and community from that project."

REIS is a partnership between Real Estate Interests Group Inc. of Bloomfield Hills and Schostak Brothers of Livonia. Partner Robert Schostak said Northville's refusal is "inexplicable" because it would create 4,500 construction jobs and "clean up an environmental and medical hazard."

Schostak has a strong relationship with Livonia's incoming mayor, Jack Kirksey, who returns to office today.

"We certainly have discussed a lot of things in the past," Kirksey said. "He may be giving me a call (about Highwood) soon."


Northville Township Supervisor Mark Abbo said his board of trustees has discussed "all the options," including asking for legislation from Lansing to protect the township from annexation, blocking it by becoming a city and a possible compromise with REIS.

Both sides are preparing for a long fight. A similar battle involving a developer and the communities of Pontiac and Bloomfield Township has raged for seven years, through seven lawsuits and allegations of a similar instant resident scheme. So far it has cost taxpayers more than $700,000, but very little has been built of the planned $1 billion Bloomfield Park.

Northville Township paid about $75,000 to real estate and public relations adviser Renaissance Strategies in 2007, while the community's legal bill is estimated so far at another $75,000.

Alan Ackerman, a land acquisition attorney in Troy, said the effort to put registered voters on the property probably is an annexation strategy. Under law, a vote for annexation would be decided by the residents of the city seeking annexation -- Livonia -- and any residents on the property.

The township's 21,000 other residents have no say in the matter.

It's a strategy that's "devious but brilliant," said Wayne County Commissioner Kevin McNamara, D-Canton Township.

New residents deny scheme
Some residents are organizing in opposition to the developer. To some, the issue is about preserving a way of life in a bucolic community where the per-capita income of $80,000 is twice the state average.

"We really want to keep Northville properties special, because the township has historically fought to keep densities low and our land values high," said Carol Poenisch, a laid-off Detroit Public Schools teacher who formed Citizens to Protect Northville's Future to fight Highwood.

"We don't want 50-foot frontage homes. We want decent setbacks. We don't want seven-story condominiums. We don't want a bigfoot shopping center that would overburden our roads."

REIS and the new residents deny there's an annexation scheme.

"If I was part of some grand annexation plot, it seems like I should be getting something more out of it. I'm not," said music teacher Randy Koltyk, who moved with his wife, Abigail, into one of the modular homes in October after developer REIS bought the land from the state for $31.5 million.

The residents said none of them are employed by the developer, but heard about the cheap rent from friends who are. This fall, the township refused to register the renters as voters, but they won a decision in December reversing the ruling.

Township Clerk Susan Hillebrand said it's odd that people with such spotty past voting records would hire a high-powered Lansing attorney who specializes in election issues. John Pirich declined to say who is paying him, but acknowledged he probably was recommended by the developer.

According to Secretary of State records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, four of eight renters have never voted in Michigan.

"It's a very abusive way to circumvent laws," Hillebrand said. "People move to communities like Northville Township for restrictive zoning. It guarantees the value of their investments in their homes will be safeguarded. I believe they (REIS) misrepresented their intentions when they got permits to put the mobile homes on the property as security facilities. The trailers were never approved to be residential property."

In the past few months, the township and developer have issued dueling news releases debating whether the residents are truly acting as security guards and whether some -- including one who is pregnant -- are exposed to toxins on the site.

The township even went so far as to distribute criminal records of the residents, claiming that some were convicted of petty crimes. But at least one of the records contained incorrect information.

"I'm the horrible pregnant woman," Brown said on the front step of her modular home, in the shadow of the hospital's abandoned nine-story main building.

"It's a huge place and as long as we don't go into the buildings or eat the soil, I think we are pretty safe," Brown said. "I can tell you that I'm not part of some big conspiracy to annex the land. I'm just thrilled to have a nice new home with brand new carpeting for my baby to crawl on in such a beautiful place."


http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artic...16/1410/METRO01
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Sourapples
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Looks like jackies back to his old tactics and his friends and family are in on it too ;)
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Purple Haze
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Sourapples
Jan 9 2008, 04:18 PM
Looks like jackies back to his old tactics and his friends and family are in on it too ;)

I know, let Jacko annex the site and drill for some more oil!
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The schools exist to educate, not employ.
Purple Haze
Jan 9 2008, 06:00 PM
Sourapples
Jan 9 2008, 04:18 PM
Looks like jackies back to his old tactics and his friends and family are in on it too  ;)

I know, let Jacko annex the site and drill for some more oil!

Does he even have the ability to annex it legally?
“Child Abuse” means different things to different people....
----Randy Liepa 8/9/12
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crazy_cat
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If it becomes Livonia property, does that mean the houses they build will be more affordable?

Has anyone seen the dumpy strip mall on 7 Mile in Northville (where the old Big Lots was)? I would think they would welcome someone who is willing to clean up the property.
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"There are a lot of tax dollars that could be generated for the schools and community from that project."

We don't want 50-foot frontage homes. We want decent setbacks. We don't want seven-story condominiums.

"If I was part of some grand annexation plot, it seems like I should be getting something more out of it. I'm not," said music teacher Randy Koltyk, who moved with his wife, Abigail, into one of the modular homes in October after developer REIS bought the land from the state for $31.5 million.

The residents said none of them are employed by the developer, but heard about the cheap rent from friends who are. This fall, the township refused to register the renters as voters, but they won a decision in December reversing the ruling.

Township Clerk Susan Hillebrand said it's odd that people with such spotty past voting records would hire a high-powered Lansing attorney who specializes in election issues. John Pirich declined to say who is paying him, but acknowledged he probably was recommended by the developer.

According to Secretary of State records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, four of eight renters have never voted in Michigan.

"It's a very abusive way to circumvent laws," Hillebrand said. "People move to communities like Northville Township for restrictive zoning. It guarantees the value of their investments in their homes will be safeguarded. I believe they (REIS) misrepresented their intentions when they got permits to put the mobile homes on the property as security facilities. The trailers were never approved to be residential property."



And the school-aged children would then become LPS students because of the new boundaries?
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I wonder what the reaction would be if Northville tried to annex part of Livonia.....

This whole thing sounds like a heck of a Livonia Neighbors conspiracy theory, doesn't it? It sounds too unbelievable to be true, doesn't it? But it has happenned before, and with the same developer......

Getting out of park
Bloomfield Park’s development has a long, contentious history. In 2000, Bloomfield Township nixed Schubiner’s plans for 20-story buildings, about 1,500 residences, offices and commercial venues.

“Our ordinances only allow for up to three-story retail and offices, and he wanted 20 stories,” Devine said. “That was a major issue as it related to our residential-style community.”

Although Devine said the township offered a compromise plan, Schubiner asked Pontiac to annex the Bloomfield Park property and put it under the city’s jurisdiction. After a September 2001 vote by Pontiac residents and residents who lived on the Bloomfield Park property, Pontiac annexed the land.

The township fought back, seeking detachment for the property. The township called for a new election for Bloomfield Township and Pontiac residents to settle who had jurisdiction over the land, but the Michigan Court of Appeals ultimately blocked the election.

Lawsuits flew, and the issue was finally settled in court. Pontiac and Bloomfield Township entered a 100-year “425 Agreement” in 2002 that set development parameters and made the two communities share jurisdiction of nearly all of the property. Only the southernmost tip of Bloomfield Park is under the township’s sole jurisdiction. For the rest, Pontiac provides city services while the township shares in the project’s oversight.


http://www.candgnews.com/Homepage-Articles...OMFIELDPARK.asp
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one_observer
Jan 9 2008, 07:35 PM



And the school-aged children would then become LPS students because of the new boundaries?

I think there are just a few kids living on the property now. But, yes, if Livonia annexed the land, it would be Livonia. Any kids living in the newly built homes would be LPS students.

It just sounds soooo sleezy to me.
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Residents form new coalition to protect Northville's future
By Pam Fleming
STAFF WRITER


A group of Northville residents launched a new coalition, Citizens to Protect Northville's Future, last week.

The group's mission is to promote safe neighborhoods, quality of life, job creation, economic development and responsible land development in Northville Township and the city of Northville.

ADVERTISEMENT

"With the recent news regarding all of the litigation and accusations surrounding the former psychiatric hospital property, many of us wanted to ensure the voices of the residents were being heard," said Carol Poenisch, president of CPNF.

"We do not believe the proposed plan from REIS does enough to address traffic congestion along Seven Mile Road, the cost of community services, the severe overcrowding this project would cause in our middle and high schools and the possible drastic decline in our home values."

"Moreover, the taxpayers of Northville Township should not have to foot the bill to clean up the property," said Laurie Marrs, CPNF member.

"Because REIS purchased the property 'as is,' they received a discounted price from the State of Michigan," Marrs said. "With the state in such dire financial straits, it is appalling the developer would have the gall to ask the taxpayers to pay for a cleanup that was already taken into account when the property was purchased."

CPNF plans to host several town hall meetings and launch a new Web site over the next several weeks to keep the residents of Northville Township, the city of Northville and other neighboring communities informed on the status of the former psychiatric hospital property as well as other issues relating to area development.

"Everyone would love to see the environmental contaminants removed from the property and a development put in which will complement the existing businesses and residential areas in Northville Township and the city of Northville," Poenisch said.

"However, we are concerned by some of the plans we have seen so far and feel there is a great need to ensure this property is developed in a responsible way consistent with the rich history and tradition of the Northville community."

In reference to the new grass-roots organization, REIS, the developers who own the former psychiatric hospital property, said, "We're happy citizens of Northville are investigating our tremendous project.

"When residents of Northville find out the details of this $800-million project that will provide 9,000 new jobs, provide beautiful housing that will fit in with the township's plans, have great stores, provide more than 100 acres of open space and clean up an area that is in great need of cleaning, then the citizens of Northville will strongly support this project. The more people know about it, the more they support it."

http://hometownlife.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti.../712200656/1029
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Do you think Livonia would actually do this, or do you think Kirksey is just sounding interested to help his developer buddy's get what they want in Northville TWP?

If Livonia was serious, would Livonia taxpayers then be responsible for the massive clean-up?
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Vanna White
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Jimid
Jan 9 2008, 07:42 PM
one_observer
Jan 9 2008, 07:35 PM



And the school-aged children would then become LPS students because of the new boundaries?

I think there are just a few kids living on the property now. But, yes, if Livonia annexed the land, it would be Livonia. Any kids living in the newly built homes would be LPS students.

It just sounds soooo sleezy to me.

School district boundries do not follow city boundries, so I would think any kids would attend Northville schools.
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Mrs.M
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Residents at center of land dispute
rather,
Developer at center of Land Dispute


Does Livonia know anyone who's a builder, how about someone who can lobby Lansing for funding to clean up contaminated sites, and there's oil in them thar hills.

Funny how Jenny was crucified for stealing 4000 (2500) jobs from Livonia and sending them to Detroit...remember?

Yet Livonia jumps in to steal property, tax dollars etc from our nextdoor neighbor, because someone doesn't want to abide by Northville's codes?
I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be WRONG.
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Renee Chesney
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Mrs.M
Jan 9 2008, 10:28 PM
Residents at center of land dispute
rather,
Developer at center of Land Dispute


Does Livonia know anyone who's a builder, how about someone who can lobby Lansing for funding to clean up contaminated sites, and there's oil in them thar hills.

Funny how Jenny was crucified for stealing 4000 (2500) jobs from Livonia and sending them to Detroit...remember?

Yet Livonia jumps in to steal property, tax dollars etc from our nextdoor neighbor, because someone doesn't want to abide by Northville's codes?

From what it appears those of us who live in Livonia and those living on the land would vote whether or not to annex it. It would be up to the voters.
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Sourapples
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Renee Chesney
Jan 10 2008, 04:11 AM
Mrs.M
Jan 9 2008, 10:28 PM
Residents at center of land dispute
rather,
Developer at center of Land Dispute


Does Livonia know anyone who's a builder, how about someone who can lobby Lansing for funding to clean up contaminated sites, and there's oil in them thar hills.

Funny how Jenny was crucified for stealing 4000 (2500) jobs from Livonia and sending them to Detroit...remember? 

Yet Livonia jumps in to steal property, tax dollars etc from our nextdoor neighbor, because someone doesn't want to abide by Northville's codes?

From what it appears those of us who live in Livonia and those living on the land would vote whether or not to annex it. It would be up to the voters.

One would only need to read the article to know this.

Under law, a vote for annexation would be decided by the residents of the city seeking annexation -- Livonia -- and any residents on the property.

Given Livonia's dismal voter turnouts for special elections that are held off of regular election dates (often poorly publicized), and given the voting block that special interests can turn out (as clearly demonstrated in many Livonia elections where the special interests leaders have more than just a "special interest"), it is clear to see the actions that will be taken to determine the outcome as desired.

A forgone conclusion? A coincidence? hmmmmmm? I wonder. Stay tuned.

Again, quotes from the newspaper article:

Those plans conform to zoning rules in Livonia, however, and state law allows owners and occupants of land in townships to ask for annexation into neighboring cities.

Schostak has a strong relationship with Livonia's incoming mayor, Jack Kirksey, who returns to office today.

"We certainly have discussed a lot of things in the past," Kirksey said. "He may be giving me a call (about Highwood) soon."


For deals like this to take place the wheels would have to have been put into motion a looooooong time ago. Don't ever think that this is something that just came up yesterday.
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