Meridian Times staff writer
Neighbors of a site planned for Meridian Township’s new fire station came to the Tuesday, Feb. 4. Township Board meeting to ask that it be changed.
In attendance, Fourteen residents, many whom reside in the condominiums across from the proposed site, made it clear that a new fire station is necessary but they want the location to change. As citizens stood up, one by one, each had similar points. There is concern for the noise level, depreciation in home value and environmental concerns including ground water vulnerability. Not only are these points held amongst the occupants but many claimed to have not known exactly where the proposed fire station would be built.
“When I voted for the fire station, I was not aware it would be located directly, right in front of an existing residential area,” said Nancy Yeager, a resident of Okemos.
On the other hand, Ken Phinney, president of local firefighters union said just the opposite.
“I’m sorry that some of these people here feel that they were not informed. I don’t know, I walked a lot of streets. I knocked on a lot of doors and I talked to a lot of people,” said Phinney. “We asked the board to put the decision to the voters, the voters spoke, it was on the ballot. It was on the pamphlets we handed out. It was there but you did have to take time to read it.”
Lawrence Nolan, an attorney from Eaton Rapids, was also in attendance and represented the condo owners association.
“My clients are just tax-paying citizens who just want to enjoy the peaceful enjoyment of their homes, that they purchased and moved into,” said Nolan.
While the night cooled down, the arguments heated up and accusations went flying. It started when David Strobl, longtime resident in Okemos, began accusing the committee of not following the ordinances.
“The firemen need a new place, of course they do and we want them to have a new place. But the problem is the procedure was not done. There wasn’t a request for a special use permit before the election,” said Strobl.
However, according to Treasurer Julie Brixie and attorney Andrea Ditschman, all procedures were followed correctly and in the right order.
Throughout the pleading and accusations, there was only man who stood out, for the sole reason that he did not accuse anyone and did not have anything opposing to say in regards to the fire station.
“I’m asking that you get us our fire station. If this gets turned down, our fire station is not going to hold up, it’s going down. It’s going down fast,” said Phinney.
Phinney did not share the same thoughts as the owners of the condominiums, he did address that contrary to popular opinion, the new locate was initially made clear to the voters.
With all of the praise came criticism, this carried on for at least two and a half hours but it was still not over, not even halfway over at 8:30 p.m.