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Published: Wednesday, 1/24/2001

Bedford has few options in mobile home ruling

TEMPERANCE - Bedford Township has “a quite limited” chance of winning an appeal of a judge's decision that paved the way for a Livonia developer to build a mobile-home park here, the township's attorney told township board members last night.

However, the township does have a few options if board members want to continue to fight Germano Management Co.'s plan to build a mobile-home park on 46.6 acres along West Dean Road just west of the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks, township attorney Phil Goldsmith said.

A week ago, Lenawee County Circuit Judge Harvey Koselka ruled that the land, owned by Eugene McNett and optioned by Germano Management, fit the three criteria laid out in a 1995 court settlement that ended a 1993 lawsuit by the company over expansion of its Inverness “Too” mobile-home park.

As such, Judge Koselka declared the parcel the “future property” outlined in the agreement, and said the township had to live up to the agreement and include the property in its master plan as a mobile-home park.

Mr. Goldsmith told board members they have at least two options available immediately: appeal Judge Koselka's decision, or ask him to define what his ordered amendment to the master plan would be.

“Quite frankly, our success on appeal is quite limited, and the township could face [court] sanctions for taking an appeal with little or no merit,” Mr. Goldsmith told the board, detailing his court arguments that the property is ill-suited for such a use because of a variety of safety, health, and drainage issues. “I think the judge was somewhat sympathetic to these issues,” but was limited in the scope on which he could rule, Mr. Goldsmith said.

Under terms of the 1995 settlement, the township has four months from the date Judge Koselka's order is filed to amend its master plan to include the parcel for a mobile-home park. As of yesterday, the judge's deicsion had not been entered, Mr. Goldsmith said. Amending the master plan would make it much more difficult to defend a decision to deny future rezoning of the site, the attorney said.

From that point, Germano still would be required to seek the necessary rezoning approval from the township, which the township board conceivably could deny, if it had sufficient cause. The company also would have to seek site-plan approval from the state Manufactured Housing Commission.

By asking the judge to outline the master plan amendment, the township could make sure that Germano Management did not sell the property to another mobile-home developer, or that if the company did abandon the project, the master plan could be revised back to its former state, Mr. Goldsmith explained.

If Germano Management moves ahead with the process and files the necessary requests, the township board “will have decisions to make at that time,” Mr. Goldsmith said. And even if the township board did approve the rezoning, the decision could be brought before township voters under the state's referendum process, he said.

Township Supervisor LaMar Frederick assured the audience that he and other board members will continue to pursue the township's interests. “We haven't made any decisions yet as to which way to go, or if to go,” he said.



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