Meridian Twp. Moves Forward With New Fire Station

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

OKEMOS (WILX)-- How would your feel if your new neighbor was a fire station? Some people who live in Meridian Township think it's a nightmare that's becoming all too real.

Monday night the Planning Commission approved a special use building permit for a new fire station on the corner of Okemos Rd. and Central Park Dr.

The $3.5 million-dollar, 15,000 square foot project was first passed on the November 2012 ballot, but the land was considered residential and couldn't be built on.

Meridian Township owns the property, and with the special use permit, it can now start the building process. Raymond Severy, Director of Public Works, says they hope to have bids by the end of September, and could start construction as soon as October.

But across the street from the site are the Autum Park Condominiums, and neighbors are upset over the decision.

"To hear those fire trucks come screaming out at three in the morning will be an imposition to us," said resident William Persons.

"I would've never bought this place if that was going to be there," said resident Susan Simkin.

It's more than just the noise that they are worried about, they know their property values will go down because of it.

""I'm guessing it's going to drop twenty percent because of the fire station," said Simkin.

Severy didn't deny that their property values might go down, but made it clear that it had to be that area or there would be no new fire station at all. The ballot clearly stated that the 3.5 milage would only go towards a new fire station on that property.

"I don't think voters knew that they were going to put it right here. They should've put it in a place where they didn't have anyone nearby. There were several options," said Persons.

Fire Chief Fred Cowper knows his soon-to-be neighbors don't want the change, but thinks they will change their minds after the station is finally built.

"If there isn't traffic we don't have to turn on our sirens. We are going to try very hard not to upset our neighbors, but we need to make sure our response times are adequate," said Cowper.

The new station should keep response times relatively the same, if not improve them, according to Cowper. The station will be replacing the central fire station that was built in the 1940's. It's not set in stone, but the central station will likely be torn down after the new station is built.

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