August 27, 2014 - Fear of vacancy is just one of the many reasons residents of Addison Township living near S-E Suburban Estates don't want Boji Holdings Group, LLC to build a proposed gas station and convenience store near their homes and transform a portion of the land from residential to C2 Commercial.
Nearly 50 people filled the room to express their concern at the Aug. 18 Public Hearing. Out of those 50 folks present, not one spoke in favor of the proposal.
"For over 20 years Addison township has been known as a rural oasis. I think it would be a betrayal of the trusted people who have invested in Addison Township, expecting it to remain rural. The zoning into a highly organized use intensive thing as C2, should not be in place. Those things should be done in the Village of Leonard," said resident and former township Supervisor Bob Koski at the hearing. "Addison Township already has two different establishments where they were set up to be shopping centers and both of them have gone broke. You don't have a good place for that and the village of Leonard would be far more appropriate to put it there and not put it into the rural area where people are trying to protect and have invested in and trusted our zoning to protect."
Don Faulkner, who lives on May Apple, said his family moved to Addison 14 years ago because both Addison and Leonard were "deemed to be rural and rustic," and they wanted that "Michigan up north feeling."
"We can get the up-north feeling by driving only 10-15 minutes and we'd like it to remain that way. We feel we have the best of both worlds (and) with commercial zoned right in the middle of this area would devastate that environment."
Faulkner is also fearful the gas station would "change the essential character of the neighborhood and the use will negatively affect the neighborhood's value."
"Additionally the change proposes a threat to the health and safety of the neighborhood by increasing the vehicular traffic in the rural neighborhood setting," he added.
Dave Colladay, who owns property just south of the proposed site, is also concerned about property values.
"I don't know what's going to happen to the value of the property with a commercial gas station right on Rochester Road and we can't even keep a fruit market in business. That lasted about a year and we couldn't even keep that going," he said. "Everybody knows Curt (Strobel) at the gas station just to the north (in Leonard). He's only got one island of gas pumps and he couldn't even keep his doors open, so we don't need another boarded up facility in the area."
John Cash moved here seven years ago from Warren "to enjoy the rural lifestyle."
"I don't see the gas station or retail business being supported. I can sit out on my porch at night and you're lucky if you hear one car every five minutes drive down Rochester Road," Cash added. "I don't think the traffic base is here, I don't think the population is here to support the gas station, especially the businesses that are being proposed down the road. I don't think at this time this community is ready for that."
Linda Meininger, "can't imagine anyone wanting to live next door to a gas station."
"I am concerned about air pollution, noise pollution, and light pollution. We moved from Sterling Heights to have a quiet community, we like where we live," Meininger said. "We've only been here for about six months, but we like it and we certainly don't want a gas station in our backyard or adjoining our property."
Carol Vernier, who has been a resident since 1973, recalled a meeting when the gas plant (located across from the proposed site) was originally proposed (years ago).
"They proposed the gas plant and said it would be all out of here in five years. (They said) 'We're going to take that sour gas out' and we'll be back to rural," she said. "Well, we see how that happened. Just like with all those failed businesses, why should we promote more."
Leonard Village President Mike McDonald touched on two things.
The first is that in Addison Township we've always planned to be a 'rural oasis,' which was the buzz word back in the early 1990's. We were always afraid of having commercial thoroughfares that look like you're back down on Telegraph Avenue or M-59 where you see nothing but storefronts and parking lots. That's certainly isn't an enhancement to rural living or the rural image," McDonald said. "The other thing is, developers will make promises and some of them they'll keep, but generally, only if they're required to do so. I hope with that in mind as we go forward, we don't accept verbal promises, but require written responses."
Charles Meininger said it's not unusual to hear motorcycles "ripping out of Leonard" and he is just afraid a gas station will encourage such noise and activity.
Arie Zigger's concerns were of an environmental nature regarding the potential hazards that could happen with it being so close to a former gas plant.
"Safety nets don't always work. You got a leak in the tanks and it gets into our well systems, swamp systems, or our main water tank," he said.
Mike Tengala said they already had an alternate gas station. "(It was) in downtown Leonard," he said. "It couldn't stay open."
In addition to public comments made at the meeting, the planning commission also received petition signatures of nearly 70 residents opposed to the rezoning along with four letters in opposition as well.
The planning commission gave Vince Boji, owner of Boji Holdings, a chance to address both the commission and the public.
"I want to start off by saying I respect all the different points of view with regards to this rezoning proposal," he said. "I've been a taxpayer for this township for seven years and I love Addison Township. Paying property taxes on 40 acres isn't exactly cheap, but I'm not a corporate man in a three-piece suit. I'm a family man and I'm who I am, a husband (and) a father."
As a family man, Boji said his intentions are to live in Addison and raise his children there and work there. He also would like to become an active member of the community.
"I plan to donate to projects that would enhance, like the Polly Ann Trail and other projects. I also, as much as possible, intend to pull a local company to perform the construction needed, as well as our local folks from within the township," he said. "I believe in keeping the money local."
Boji noted that his intentions are to build a gas station that will have a rustic look and "respect the rural atmosphere of the township."
"I know how to serve my community (and) neighbors in a way that respect the value of those who want to live in a rural community," he said. "I believe a local family (running a) gas station will help residents stay locally and not have to travel to more populated areas to get to the gas they all need. Folks with limited means should not have to make a 10 mile road trip just to get their gas."
"Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to better themselves, everyone started new at some point and I ask you for that opportunity," Boji added. "Thank you."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.