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Park rezoned, land gift accepted

November 25, 2009 - In order to pave the way for the potential construction of a new Verizon cellular tower, Addison Township officials last week voted to rezone Watershed Park and accepted a land donation.

Officials rezoned Watershed Park from an Agricultural Zoning District to a Public or Institutional Zoning District.

This would allow the park to be consistent with the Addison Township Land Use Master Plan, adopted October 28, 2004, which showed the proposed rezoning site as a public use.

"All we are doing is bringing Watershed Preserve Park up to the Master Plan designation as public," said Trustee Ed Brakefield. "It's going to stay exactly the way it is, except for the Arnold School, parking lot and things like that," he said.

The Addison Township Planning Commission as well as the Oakland County Coordinating Zoning Commission approved the rezoning.

In addition to Watershed Park being rezoned, the zoning map would also be updated as part of the resolution.

The Board next held a public hearing on the proposed Conversion/Mitigation for Watershed Park.

The township accepted the 110-foot-by-110-foot feet of donated property from Addison Township resident Charlie Peringian in order to approve the leasing of a 100-foot-by-100-foot piece of land to Verizon for the use of a cell tower.

The Conversion/Mitigation would allow the board to maintain the intent of use for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant properties by mitigating property of a higher value by way of appraisal and environmental value.

The mitigated property is located away from the main road and is contiguous to the environmental sensitive areas of Watershed Park. It will remain in a natural state.

People spoke out both positively and negatively for the tower. Addison Township resident Tom Podsiadlik was opposed to putting the tower in.

"It was not meant to be Stoney Creek or Addison Oaks type thing...its intent was to be able to walk through it and enjoy nature at its finest. Putting the tower out there could pose some problems."

Podsiadlik asked the board, if they were to approve it, to protect the interest of the town and ask Verizon to spend a little extra money in order to blend the tower in.

Addison Township resident Mark Cooper was in favor of the tower. He stated that he has no cell tower where he lives, and it can be a matter of life and death. "It's time for us to step up and provide some safety and security for the people who live in this township and pay taxes," he said.

"Although none of us are really excited about cell towers located within the township, we believe that it will happen somewhere in the area," said Supervisor Bruce Pearson. "This location that we are considering is out of the high density area, out of the school zone and also a way to generate funds for Addison Township Parks in a time when future allocations and future of the economic system is kind of dim."

Addison municipal attorney Bob Davis said the money that will be generated from the tower would go towards park purposes only, which is something he also mentioned to the state.

Pearson also stated there is no cell service in the area or in the park. He expressed safety concerns and cited a couple of deaths that happened because emergency response could not be called.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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