Davison Index

Council rejects purchase option offer for city-owned property in Shiawassee County

SWARTZ CREEK — Citing concerns about the unknown impact of a potential advanced manufacturing mega site in eastern Shiawassee County, the Swartz Creek City Council has turned down an offer for an option to purchase city-owned land within the targeted development area.

For more than 50 years, the city has owned about 11 acres near Leisure Lake in Shiawassee County. With a 16-inch concrete water main on site, the land previously held a pump station and served as a wellhead to deliver potable water to Swartz Creek residents before the city hooked in to the Genesee County water system.

Now, as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation identifies large tracts of property to market to advanced manufacturing companies, the farmland of eastern Shiawassee County has caught their eye.

The Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership is working with the MEDC to package and market the property. The SEDP offered the city $2,000 for a three-year option to buy.

The option would require the city to sell the property if the SEDP or the end user chose to invoke the option. A final sale price likely would fall between $176,000 and $275,000.

City Manager Adam Zettel said the ultimate use of the property remains undetermined.

“I want to know what they might be putting in ‘the back 40’,” Zettel said.

About 10 years ago, there was considerable speculation about a large steel processing facility being built near Durand. The development, known as Project Tim, never came to fruition.

“We had some concerns with Project Tim,” Zettel said. “They were talking about a smelting facility. We didn’t want that. We don’t want to wreck our town.”

Zettel said the city might be interested in being a partner in a future sale, depending on the buyer and the proposed use of the property.

“But I’m not comfortable committing this council or a future council to selling property to a user we might not want six miles upwind,” he said.

Councilman John Knickerbocker agreed.

“We are not going to commit our constituents to something in which we have no knowledge of what the buyer would be,” he said.

Councilman Nathan Henry also spoke in opposition to the sale option.

“I’m against it because public sentiment seems against the mega sites,” Henry said.

He added that he would support the city accepting a small amount of money in exchange for agreeing not to sell the property to anyone else for three years.

“We are kind of in the driver’s seat,” said Councilman David Spillane. “If they want that property, they will come a’knockin’. We have a 16-inch water main that was usable at one time. No matter what goes in, they’re going to want water. So, we’re kind of in the driver’s seat on dictating what goes in there.”

Zettel said he will continue to discuss the matter with the SEDP.