Town, owner reach deal for 34-acre property; final price undecided

Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2, Mar 30, 2018, MonroeNow

The Township has signed a settlement agreement with the owner of a 34-acre property that is the planned site for a new district middle school.

The agreement between the Township and Lewis Properties I, LLC and Lewis Properties II, LLC details several terms going forward, but a final purchase price has not been determined.

The agreement was approved during a special council meeting on March 26, following the regularly scheduled agenda meeting. The agreement was signed by the mayor and clerk on March 26 and by Lewis Properties on March 2, according to the document.
In December, the Township officially acquired the 34-acre lots through the eminent domain process at the request of the Board of Education to use for the new middle school. The Township has appraised the value of the lots at $2.38 million and has set that amount in escrow. The Township intends to give the property deed to the Board of Education for a new middle school.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Township will provide the land rent-free to the owner, who will continue to pay property taxes. The property will continue to operate as the Applegarth Golf Center at least until Nov. 30, 2019, but no more than two years from the start of the agreement. It also says the council will work with the Township Board of Education to have the “school building or another significant structure constructed on the property shall prominently and conspicuously display the name of an individual or a family name … in perpetuity.”

Though the board would have final say over any naming recognition, trustee President Kathy Kolupanowich said members had previously discussed this option.

At two years, regardless of the status for a new middle school at the site, the golf center will have to leave the property, Township Administrator Alan Weinberg said.

Weinberg said the settlement was needed, despite the two parties not having agreed to a transaction price, because of legal and liability matters required since the golf center is operating on Township property, such as liability insurance.

The agreement also stipulates that the two parties will continue to negotiate for a price, but notes that if they fail to reach a deal by July 1 the matter would head to the court system or to a mutually agreed upon arbitrator.

As for what’s next with the referendum, Kolupanowich said trustees have yet to discuss going forward.

“We are looking at all the data. We want to get some information from our community on where they think we should go,” Kolupanowich said. “I think we want to analyze what went wrong, what we can do better, how we can get a better plan out to our community as to what we’re going to do with each piece of the needs assessment for our facilities.”

The referendum was on the March 27 Board of Education meeting agenda, she said, but during the meeting, the required number of trustees needed to continue conducting business vanished when five members left following an executive session about Superintendent Michael Kozak’s contract.

The district’s $68.8 million plan to build a second middle school was defeated 3,244 to 3,101 in a public referendum on March 13.