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Special funding to eliminate 'eyesore'



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Independence Township officials say the building, once a gas station, at the corner of M-15 and Dixie is the number one eyesore in the township. Photo by AB (click for larger version)
July 02, 2014 - Officials call it the #1 eyesore in Independence Township, but it could all change with a new plan for property at the corner of M-15 and Dixie Highway.

It's been several years since the corner was occupied by a BP gas station, and redeveloping the property has been challenging.

"Multiple developers have made attempts to bring this old service station back to life in one form or another over the years, but have been scared away because of the economy, environmental concerns due to soil contamination," said Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle.

Kittle said the newest proposition includes leveling the existing building, getting rid of contaminated soil and building a new building to house a Tim Horton's and a T-Mobile cellular phone store.

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Kittle said revamping the property would have a ricochet effect on the area by sparking neighboring commercial property owners to upgrade their properties and storefronts.

Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, a special financing program created to assist communities in redeveloping and restoring difficult properties to make them environmentally and economically viable.

Cost to deal with soil on the property is currently estimated to be a little over $151,000. Kittle said Oakland County will pay costs, and then be reimbursed over 19 years by the net increase in property values.

Presently the property is valued at $209,400, but once redevelopment is done the value is expected to increase to about $525,000.

Through the county program, the township would continue to receive tax revenue from the current value of $209,400 and the county would receive tax on the difference of $315,000.

Oakland County is expected to hold a public hearing regarding the issue on July 16, and a County Board of Commissioners vote for approval following on July 31.

If approved by county commissioners, development on the property would begin shortly after.

In 2013 a developer proposed a drive thru Tim Horton's restaurant, convenience store, and gas station. The station was lost operational in 2009.

Independence Township Trustee and Planning Commission member Ron Ritchie said the prospective business owner couldn't meet traffic and parking requirements, so a petition for the property was withdrawn.

"There were a number of concerns" said Trustee David Lohmeier, who added the location will be difficult for any business to occupy. Due to the issues, the developer withdrew his petition.

Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.
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