Decision on Meridian Township Fire Station Delayed

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It's been well over a year since voters in Meridian Township approved a millage to build a new fire station on the corner of Okemos and Central Park Drive in Nov. 2012.

In the time since, there hasn't been much building, but plenty of bickering over plans for the 28-acre piece of property.

"A debacle is probably one of the nicer words that's been used to describe this," said Brett Dreyfus, township clerk.

Dreyfus said he's had problems with the plans from the get-go, citing his issues with the location, which was specifically written into the millage language.

"Why would you possibly want to tie your hands and restrict your ability to locate your fire station," Dreyfus asked. "Because problems could come up later just like we're now experiencing and you want the freedom to be able to make changes as necessary."

Hitting the reset button and starting over is one of Dreyfus' suggestions, though he admits he is starting to come around considering the township's latest revision of the proposal.

Original plans called for the building and driveways of the station to face Central Park Drive.

But new proposals call for the driveways and building to face Okemos Road instead, in part to ease concerns of residents living in the Autumn Park condos across the street from the site on Central Park Drive.

Mike Anderson, who created a website in opposition of the proposal, isn't buying it.

"It stinks like Washington politics, all they're doing is relocating it and they're going to stick it to somebody else and that is not fair... a bad idea is a bad idea," Anderson said.

"We have begged them to let us work with them to find alternative sites, they won't listen."

The revised plan will now go back before the township's planning commission during its March 24 meeting to allow for a Section 61 review to determine the suitability of the project for the site.

"Moving the driveway will mitigate the concern the residents had, so they're not waking up in the morning and looking at a fire station," said Milton Scales, township trustee.

"At some point we have to make a decision and move forward and we have to listen to a majority of the township residents that've said 'get us a fire station.'"

The planned new station would replace the now shuttered Central Fire station, which closed last month because of mold and flooding issues.

The township board will have final say after the planning commission completes its review. That should happen at the April 1 board meeting.

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