December 12, 2012 - If funding is lined up, Baldwin Road may be the site of a lane expansion in the near future, but already the project has stirred up concern.
Gary Rutledge, Chairman of the Elders for Gingellville Community Church, spoke to the Orion Township Board of Trustees at their Dec. 3 meeting about the worries his church has.
Rutledge wants to remain sensitive to the intent of Gingellville Village Design Plan, a plan that has ensured Gingellville would remain a nice-looking and special place. To that end, Gingellville Community Church has engaged in extensive landscaping along the road side.
"It looks to me like they missed the point of the [Gingellville Village] design standards and goals and focused on what's the way to flow the most cars through the place with the latest technology," Rutledge said of the Road Commission of Oakland County.
To follow the directive laid out in the Gingellville Village Design Plan, Rutledge said "we plant hundreds of annuals on the property just to make our piece of Gingellville look as nice as we can and that opportunity is going to be removed."
However, if the Road Commission's plan is enacted, Rutledge said it would completely wipe out anything placed in front of the church. "The safety path will come within inches of the front wall of the church, so rather than have any kind of landscaping area, we will have a 175-foot long wall next to the safety path, and it's not going to look very attractive."
Rutledge has a greater concern than the aesthetic appeal to passersby. His reading of the noise impact section of the county's plan gives him pause. "It clearly states the noise level gets significantly above what's recommended," he cautioned.
In other words, the county recognizes that certain buildings require a lower level of noise. Churches, day care centers, hospitals, and schools fit this planned usage category.
In short, Rutledge felt that his "worship service will be rendered unusable because the sound level coming through the wall will be equal to or greater than what's going on inside."
Church services are times of communication and discussion, Rutledge explained, and that objective would be thwarted if the outdoor noise overwhelmed the interior quiet space needed in a church service.
The church could potentially raise its sound level inside to compensate for the increased outdoor noise, yet Rutledge said that would make the level inside inappropriate for the occasion.
"If we raise the sound level in the worship service to such a level that we can overcome the outside, then we get into levels that are considered annoying."
So what can be done about the sound problem? Rutledge is reluctant to offer a solution, as it requires specialized knowledge and abilities.
"We've hesitated to propose solutions," Rutledge explained. "The County has some very talented, some very intelligent, some very well-paid people working on this project. It looks to us like they have focused on traffic flow and missed the concept of preserving the area."
If a solution isn't found before it's too late, the options for the Gingellville Community Church don't look good.
"To solve the sound problem, we might have to spend a considerable amount of money to extensively either revise the current building or build another building someplace else and move into it."
Oakland County's District 3 Commissioner, Mike Gingell grew up in the area and is sympathetic to Rutledge and the town he used to call home.
"Anytime there is change it is important to make sure we hear and understand the issue to work together," Gingell said.
He anticipates many other concerns are likely to arise as the project moves forward. Nonetheless, Gingell said, there can be no progress without change. He said his grandfather and uncles used to tell him, "you can't stop progress, you just have to work together to try and make it the best situation for everybody."