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Published: Wednesday, 1/12/2005

Erie Township industrial park plan put on hold

ERIE - The Erie Township Board tabled a plan last night to purchase their share of a 140-acre parcel near the intersection of East Sterns Road and South Dixie Highway that township leaders want to turn into an industrial park.

While board members had questions about the proposal, they said they didn't want to make a final decision until they were able to hold a joint meeting with board members from neighboring Bedford Township. That meeting is planned for sometime within the first two weeks of February.

Erie Township officials negotiated a price of $9,500 an acre for the parcel last year, about 62 percent of which is in Erie. The remainder is in Bedford Township.

Both townships have agreed in principle to share the cost of development if they opt to proceed with the project, but no formal actions have been taken beyond an earnest-money deposit of $20,000. Bedford Township board members agreed to pay their share of the deposit last week.

Erie Township Supervisor Paul Mikels said there was no need to rush ahead of Bedford Township, and that the project could go forward if the two townships work together.

"There is a lot of caution within both [boards] about going ahead carefully. We have a time limit for the deposit, but that doesn't mean we have to be foolish," he said. "I want to take due caution because we are, as one of our constituents said, speculating with their money."

Mr. Mikels also indicated that at least one steel firm has indicated an abiding interest in relocating its 150 jobs to the site if and when the two townships are able to receive state grants to pay for infrastructure. He refused to disclose the firm's identity.

In a related move, the township board retained Monroe lawyer Jeff Osment to represent its interests as the Erie/Bedford Industrial Park project proceeds.

Both Erie and Bedford Townships retained Lennard, Graham, and Goldsmith of Monroe as their township legal counsel. The firm will continue to represent Erie in other matters but will represent Bedford Township in this project.

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