2017-03-15 / Front Page

White Lake trustees approve $1.6M land purchase for campus expansion


Staying the course and following long range planning ultimately pays dividends. In the case of White Lake Township, that statement is apropos.

During a special meeting of the White Lake Township Board of Trustees on Friday, March 3, trustees unanimously approved buying approximately 25 acres of property for a future township unified campus and civic center.

Future planning began in 1999 to someday combine all township facilities into one concise location, thus creating a common location for all departments and services. The agreement to purchase the roughly 25 acres from Glenn Properties is the next step in the process.

“The future is upon us and the right circumstances presented themselves,” stated White Lake Township Supervisor Rik Kowall. “Throughout the past year, we did our due diligence and negotiated to get a great piece property that will allow consolidation and expansion of township facilities.”

The township will pay $1.6 million for the property, which is located off Elizabeth Lake Road and is adjacent to the south side of where the new White Lake Township Library will be built. Kowall said the closing paperwork should happen by the end of April.

“There are less and less available plats of land available because of the continued commercial and residential growth occurring in White Lake,” he told the Spinal Column. “Buying this property will put the township in a positive position for the foreseeable future.”

Money for the acquisition will come out of the township’s building and revitalization fund account. During the past two years, the township has brought in slightly more than $1.2 million from the sale of properties to developers. These include land across M-59 from Meijer’s and the Porter Road farm property.

In 2015, the board hired CHMP Architects to evaluate all current township buildings and to provide recommendations on what is needed to keep the various buildings in working condition and up to standards. CHMP’s report detailed $1.7 million in combined upgrades that will be needed in the next few years to bring the township buildings into compliance with such items as the Americans with Disability Act and energy efficiency. Additionally, there is no room for expansion at the current fire department, senior center and department of public works locations.

“We can either apply multiple Band-Aids and short-term fixes, or do the right thing and build more efficient and cost-effective facilities. It’s the best use of taxpayer dollars,” said Kowall in explaining the reasoning for purchasing the 25 acres of land. Jay Noonan, an architectural firm based in Clarkston, is working on concept plans that will fit ascetically, environmentally and efficiently into the natural beauty of the soon to be purchased property. Noonan specializes in municipal projects. Some of their recent work has been with the Village of Wolverine Lake and Springfield Township.

The property is zoned appropriately in the township’s master plan, so no significant adjustments will need to be done from the zoning side.

During the interview, Kowall indicated that the township has had multiple inquiries from potential developers about buying the existing township office located on M-59. The property is a prime location for future retail stores, apartments or new commercial offices. However, he said that there are no imminent plans to start building anything soon.

“We have a long way to go before we dig any holes and put up walls. Purchasing the land was the right thing to do, but the entire White Lake Township Board is committed to moving toward a consolidated campus.”

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