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Published: 3/1/2005

Bedford, Erie drop industrial park

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ERIE - Bedford and Erie townships have abandoned a plan to develop an industrial park on their shared border after discovering wetlands issues on the land, officials from both townships said yesterday.

The two local governments had put down $20,000 in earnest money last year to buy 140 acres near the intersection of Sterns Road and South Dixie Highway. Those funds will be returned now that the townships' option has expired, officials said.

"For right now, the project - as it was - is dead," Erie Township Supervisor Paul Mikels said.

The townships planned to buy the land from the Cousino family for $9,500 an acre, or about $1.3 million, and pursue state economic development grants to construct infrastructure on the property. The two planned to share expenses and tax revenues in proportion to the amount of land that would have been within their respective jurisdictions.

Bedford Township's share of the land would have cost $503,500, with Erie Township looking at a bill of $830,490 for its 62 percent share. Monroe Bank & Trust had agreed to provide initial financing for the purchase.

Economic development officials had hoped to market the land to parts suppliers from DaimlerChrysler AG's nearby Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant.

The Bedford Township Economic Development Commission has pursued a second local industrial park for several years, and focused on the joint project with Erie Township as a way of providing industrial land with minimal impact on its otherwise heavily residential areas.

But Walt Wilburn, Bedford Township supervisor, said two obstacles proved insurmountable: the fact that about a third of the 38 acres in Bedford Township is in the 100-year floodplain, making it difficult to develop, and the overall cost during tough economic times.

"The timing stunk with all the [state] revenue sharing cuts," Mr. Wilburn said. "We just couldn't justify spending that kind of money right now when there's so much need for everything else."

Mr. Wilburn said the lack of available industrial land left for development in Bedford Township means that a joint industrial park with Erie Township might not be dead, but may be on hold for quite a while.

"You don't start a new project when you're still paying for the ones you've already got going," he said. "It's not totally dead. It's just that we're not going to proceed with it right now."

Mr. Wilburn said he and Bedford Township Trustee Larry O'Dell planned to give a presentation at tonight's board meeting about the project.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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