By Coty Kenneth
Meridian Times staff writer
After a final vote, a decision has been made: the Meridian Township has voted in favor of granting a Special Use Permit. At the April 1 meeting, board members approved the permit to build the new fire station with a six to one vote; Clerk Brett Dreyfus voted alone in opposition.
During the March 18 board meeting, many concerns arose regarding the placement of the station, the environmental issues and the volume of noise that would be generated. Mark Kieselbach and Thomas Bennett gave a presentation addressing these issues prior to continued discussion on the Special Use Permit.
“The fire station was reduced from approximately 15,000 square feet to about 14,000 square feet by removing the bay on the north side,” said Kieselbach. “Additional trees are proposed to be planted to become a buffer and the training tower that was in the original plan is now taken out.”
Several residents opposed the plan. Many were very direct and opinionated. However, a few viewpoints were conveyed with a sense of lightheartedness and comic relief.
“After leaving the planning commission meeting last week, many concerns ran through my head,” said 50-year Meridian Township resident Heather Jones Clark. “My first and foremost concern was how on earth anyone has ever been able to build a fire station anywhere.”
On the other hand, most residents said there had been a lack of communication during this process.
“To this date, I have not received communication from the board on this issue in the township,” said Joy Wiseman, a resident of the Ottawa Hills subdivision. “Nor have I received anyone knocking at my doorstep and I am three houses and a park away from Okemos road.”
In response to the public’s concern, board members shared opinions as to why the proposed site is fitting for the new fire station.
“I have heard concerns expressed from residents in the Ottawa Hills and Autumn Park,” said Treasurer Julie Brixie. “The bottom line is that they don’t want anything anywhere on that side.”
“We didn’t purchase this site with taxpayer dollars for permanent preservation,” said Brixie. “We bought it with the intent to use it for a higher quality use. It does have a terrific location for public use. It is right next to the post office, down the street from our offices here, and is centrally located in Meridian Township.”
With the award of the special permit in hand, Meridian Township will move forward with the design and site plans. However, no date of completion has been cited.