Plans to build a permanent fire substation in Dexter Township are in limbo after the property the township planned to purchase was sold on Dec. 31.
According to Dexter Township Supervisor Pat Kelly, talks with PJK Dexter, LLC, who owns the 5-acre property at 11485 N. Territorial Road fell through after the township failed to purchase the property at a cost of $262,000 prior to the expiration of its purchase agreement on Nov. 14, 2012.
Kelly said by the time the board authorized approval at its Dec. 18 meeting, the landowner was already in negotiations with the owners of the Inverness Inn in Chelsea.
The township had planned to purchase the property and build the station, which would put 98 percent of the township's residents within 5 miles of a fire department.
Kelly said the loss of the property will significantly impact the scope of the project.
"We are discussing several options, none of which are good alternatives," Kelly said.
One option would be to condemn and take the property through eminent domain, she said.
"Personally I believe we have a good shot of making that happen, but obviously our first step would be to make an offer to buy the property," Kelly said.
Other options include purchasing land from the MultiLakes Sewer Authority, Lyndon Township, or a neighboring township.
"Unforunately the further we move from our desired location, the more residents will be affected," Kelly said. "Even moving the station 7/10ths of a mile west (of North Territorial Road) willl leave a lot of homes around Portage Lake out of the 5-mile coverage area."
Township Clerk Harley Rider said he expects the board to discuss alternative locations for the station at its meeting on Jan. 15.
"I'm not a proponent of condemnation," he said. "There are other options out there that are worth discussing."
Rider said he didn't want to blame any one person for the loss of the property, but he acknowledged that the township could have acted quicker.
"We could've called a special meeting prior to the expiration of the purchase agreement to work out any issues," he said. "There were a number of errors that caused this purchase to fall through."
Rider said he still has hopes that the station could begin construction in the fall if the township finds another parcel of land that doesn't require a lot of environmental clean-up.
"I'm optimistic that we will still have shovels in the ground this fall," he said.
During the November general election, Dexter Township voters approved up to 1-mill tax levy for seven years to fund the new fire substation.