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Published: Wednesday, 2/8/2006

Bedford to buy land for park, cemetery

TEMPERANCE - After waiting nearly a year, Bedford Township board members last night unanimously approved buying 71 acres near Samaria, Mich., that will be developed into a park and cemetery.

The farmland, on the southeast corner of Samaria Road and Lewis Avenue, will be developed into a 14-acre cemetery and a 57-acre park. The purchase price is $350,000, with closing expected to take place within the next several weeks.

The board originally considered the purchase Jan. 17 but tabled the matter after board members requested a second appraisal to verify the land's value.

Clerk Bob Schockman said last night the land was "being sold below market value for similar-sized parcels in Bedford."

Questions also arose about the quality of the soil and the height of the water table in the area to be used as a cemetery. Mr. Schockman said results of soil borings taken within the last two weeks showed neither issue would come into play when a cemetery is built.

The township originally submitted an offer to buy the land in April, 2005, but had to wait for a previous option to expire. Though the as-yet-unnamed cemetery won't be opened for several years, the purchase comes as the township's three existing cemeteries are out of space.

Township officials have been looking for cemetery land for eight years and set aside $61,000 to buy land.

Most of the cost is being paid for by the Bedford Parks and Recreation Commission, which passed a quarter-mill tax levy in 2003 to improve and expand the township's park network.

Park board Chairman Mark Fuller said the new park probably will remain farmland "for at least a year or two" while his board surveys residents about what they want there and hires an architect to design it.

"We're in no hurry," Mr. Fuller said, adding that his board will wait to see if voters renew the park levy in August before determining exactly what will be built in the new park.

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