By Ryan Hodges
Meridian Times staff writer
MERIDIAN TWP.– With a full agenda for the evening—including the controversial placement of a new fire station—the Meridian Township Board members got comfortable. It was going to be a long night.
The majority of the five-and-a-half hour board meeting on Feb. 4 was spent with residents stating their opposition about the proposed new fire station location. In addition, however, the board also took action on a police forfeiture contract, and they discussed the building of an Aldi grocery store and 24-apartment development that will be located at 5155 Marsh Road, north of the Meridian Mall.
The real estate director for the Michigan division of Aldi, David Kapusansky, said that although the low-cost grocery store chain will come into the community quietly, it will be successful because of its ability to build trust with the customer.
“We sell select brand Aldi food items, (and) we have been rated the best value in America,” Kapusansky said. “We’re healthy, we’re growing (and) we’re (slated to build) 27-30 stores in the next five years here in Michigan.”
For the most part, the board had come to an agreement that having Aldi in the community would be a good idea, but many members disagreed with the approach that the developer had taken with the mandatory “mixed-use” of the property.
Julie Brixie, township treasurer, said that when the township changed the zoning of this area from residential to commercial for a mixed-use development, this was not necessarily what she had envisioned.
“It kind of looks like a classic suburban design,” Brixie said. “I would prefer to see (the buildings placed) along the frontage of Marsh Road and have the apartments stacked on top of it … to promote (a) more walkable community.”
The board also voted on whether the law firm Bodwin & Associates, P.C., in East Lansing, should manage the forfeited assets acquired by the Meridian Township Police Department as the result of an arrest.
The 5-2 vote was in favor of the contract with Bodwin & Associates, with dissenting votes from Trustee John Veenstra and Clerk Brett Dreyfus.
Trustee Milton L. Scales said that the Meridian Township Police Department would never do anything that would reflect negatively on the township.
“I have a history of 33 years in the law enforcement, and I put trust in the prosecuting attorney … (and) law enforcement officers to do their job that they are sworn to do,” Scales said. “I have (a lot of) confidence in our chief of police and his ability to develop and establish policies and carry out the enforcement of those policies.”
Dreyfus said something that needs to be done about the mismanagement and misuse of this system before he would agree to the contract.
“This isn’t about trusting the police department, this is about the policy of forfeiture where assets are taken sometimes without a conviction,” said Dreyfus. “For that reason, I cannot support that type of unconstitutional approach to due process of the law.”