On Nov. 8, the Meridian Township Planning Committee unanimously approved a proposal to build a Consumer Credit Union Bank on the lot at 2763 Grand River Ave.
“Ultimately, [Consumers Credit Union] was able to do a lot of the things that the Planning Commission was looking for,” said Chairman Tim Schmitt. Schmitt said plans include removing parking from the front of the building to be able to move the building closer to Grand River. Schmitt also said that after the staff’s initial review, construction should be able to meet ordinance requirements from a site planning perspective, and there were no major concerns. Representing Consumers Credit Union to speak on the topic at the meeting was Bosch Architects employee Nick Lockes.
If people in the Meridian Township area are looking for something to do this holiday season, Let’s Say Cheese is the perfect place. After opening its doors in April 2021 at Meridian Mall in Okemos, an interactive selfie museum has really ramped up since students started returning to Michigan State University, said owner Scott Moore. These interactive selfie museums are becoming extremely popular around the country, especially in metro areas such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and many more.
Now, MSU students and Meridian Township residents do not have to travel far to spice up their social media feed.
Okemos resident Madeline Hoffmann traveled to Chicago to visit the WNDR interactive museum, and said Let’s Say Cheese was just as fun as the world-renowned WNDR museum that she visited a couple of years ago..
“I almost liked it (Let’s Say Cheese) better than the one in Chicago because it is just as immersive, cheaper, and so close to home,” said Hoffmann. Compared to other interactive selfie museums around the country that charge anywhere from $30 to $75 to go through the museum, Let’s Say Cheese owner Moore said the prices are extremely reasonable. Guests can go through the museum for an hour and only pay $15, with special holiday deals, and a $10 entrance fee every Thursday.
Unlike Hoffmann, MSU junior Sydney Stearns had never been to an interactive selfie museum before visiting Let’s Say Cheese last spring when it first opened.
Although multiple towns outside Meridian Township have legalized recreational marijuana and moved forward opening dispensaries, the Meridian Township Board still has reservations about opening dispensaries for recreational sales. For MT to pass recreational sales, it would take a majority of the board to vote to opt in and reverse the previous 7 to 0 board vote to opt out of recreational marijuana sales in 2019, said Meridian Township Treasurer Phil Deschaine. Deschaine said he is against the legalization of recreational marijuana, mostly because of the image it would create for the township. He said MT is known for its excellent schools, vibrant neighborhoods, and superb public safety. With multiple dispensaries being built this reputation would be in jeopardy.
Since 2019, a project has been in the works to renovate downtown Okemos in Meridian Township. The renovations were put on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19, but the Township is back to constructing a plan to get the project in motion. The vision for the renovations includes a mix of residential and commercial buildings on the intersection of Okemos and Hamilton Roads, and is looking to cost the city about $70 million, said Meridian Township’s Neighborhoods and Economic Development Director Amber Clark.
The project is set to be centered around a 200,000 square foot mixed-use building with about 200 residential units, as well as about 30,000 square feet of commercial space that could be fit for many businesses such as restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, or other similar services. “This project is not just for ‘Okemos’,” said Clark, “this project is the only redevelopment project for the Meridian Charter Downtown Development Authority and means a great deal to the entire community.”
As far as specifics for the buildings being put in place in Downtown Okemos, Director of Community Planning and Development Tim Schmitt said that there will be primarily 4-story buildings put in place on Okemos and Hamilton Road. “The buildings on Hamilton will have commercial space on the first floor,” said Schmitt, “while the buildings on Okemos will have primarily residential on the first floor, with commercial space on the corners.”
This design accommodates an issue with parking along Okemos Road.
Communities, including Meridian Township, are contributing to the overall reduction of climate change.
In addition to the solar panels on top of the fire station, Meridian Township has also finished a project in summer 2021, the installation of 355 solar panels on top of the Meridian Service Center, which is the largest installation of solar panels on Meridian Township facilities. Since joining thousands of communities in signing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2007, Meridian Township adopted in 2017 a Climate Sustainability Plan to meet the climate action and green community goals of the township. Some of the biggest strides that that township has made in honoring the Sustainability Plan has been implementing renewable energy sources including solar panels and green transportation, as well as holding citizens of Meridian Township accountable for their energy consumption.
In Meridian Township, specifically, the township board discussed in the April board meeting that their plan is to “primarily use renewable energy in the future, encouraging residents to consider electric alternatives before they need to replace household equipment fueled by natural gas or gasoline.”
The township board’s goals for energy usage are by 2035, 40% of Meridian’s energy usage will be from renewable sources, followed by 80-90% by 2040-2050. Meridian Township Environmental Programs Coordinator LeRoy Harvey said that “the board has budgeted money for more renewable energy in 2022,” Harvey said, “and our Energy Team is currently exploring cost effective options at the Municipal Building, Public Safety Building, Okemos Library, and Solar Carports.”
As far as physically implementing renewable energy sources throughout the Township, Meridian has spent the past couple years building numerous solar panel systems on top of city buildings. In November 2020, Meridian concluded a project of installing solar panels on top of the South Fire Station on Okemos Road.