Residents Protest Safety Path On Indianwood Road
The Orion Township Board of Trustees votes to address resident concerns before moving forward.
The Orion Township Board of Trustees received a lot of heat regarding the construction of a safety path on Indianwood Road at Monday night’s meeting at Orion Township Hall.
After listening to a variety of complaints against the development, the board voted unanimously in favor of setting aside a formal decision on the project, and instead authorized Supervisor JoAnn Van Tassel to meet with the residents that would be impacted to address their concerns and try to come up with a solution that would appease them. The Township Attorney Dan Kelly and OHM Engineer David Schroeder will be joining Van Tassel on her visits. The motion directed that within 60 days Van Tassel would report her findings back to the board.
“We will work with every single resident that’s affected by the proposed project … we will do our best to resolve all of the issues,” Van Tassel said.
Van Tassel said she has already met with some of the residents who previously noted their concerns.
The plan for the safety path
Schroeder led a presentation at the meeting, explaining that the intent is to create a safety path (sidewalk) starting on the east side of Baldwin Road at Klais Road, continuing north through the Baldwin roundabout leading to the north side of Indianwood Road and continuing east to Paint Creek Elementary School. Near the school the path would cross Indianwood to the south side of the road and continue moving east connecting near the Indianwood Golf & Country Club, Schroeder said at the meeting.
The path would complete a western path loop, which the township’s Safety Path Advisory Committee has been looking to complete for years and is planned to be eight feet wide. The Township’s Safety Path Advisory Committee recommended that the path be built.
“The properties fronting the pathway are not the only properties benefiting from this,” Taylor Reynolds, chair of the Safety Path Advisory Committee said.
Schroeder noted that there are design constraints limiting the project. He noted that with respect to road commission clear zones, they are ‘required to provide an eight foot shoulder outside of the traveled edge of Indianwood Road’ and also need to leave a four-foot space for drainage. In order to construct the safety path, the township is in need of about 25 easements from residents along the south side of Indianwood Road, meaning they need residents to agree to letting the township use the land for the pathways.
Neighboring residents against safety path
According to residents at Monday’s meeting, the township sent out letters offering appraisal value for the easements, notifying residents that if they didn’t comply their property would be condemned.
One woman, who lives on the 2000 block of Indianwood Road, noted that her letter from the township noted that her easement was appraised at $587, which she thinks one of her evergreens, which would have to come down, is worth more than that.
“I feel very disrespected and even violated,” she said of the township trying to ‘destroy’ her yard.
“I would like the township to step back and reevaluate the building of the path on Indianwood Road,” she continued.
Likewise, resident Jerry Richards said, “I feel that my rights as a property owner are being trampled upon by this safety path.”
About a dozen residents in total took the time to address the board at Monday’s meeting and only two were in favor of the safety path, however they were residents not immediately impacted by the path. Matthew Davis, an attorney who was asked to speak on a resident’s behalf, mentioned the possibility of a lawsuit if the township chooses to move forward with the safety path as planned at the meeting.
The majority of the complaints revolved around the township’s lack of communication, liabilities with the safety path and the ‘potentially inaccurate’ settlements offered to the residents. Concerns about trees being taken down in order to construct the path, property value diminishing and lack of privacy were also concerns raised at the meeting.
“I am not one who likes to cut down trees … I care about trees,” Van Tassel assured, explaining that she has tried to look at ways to lessen the environmental impact of the project when canvassing resident’s properties.
Trustee Mark Crane, like many other members of the board, agreed that there was a need for a safety path on Indianwood Road and that it had been discussed for years.
“Indianwood in particular is sorely lacking, it’s one of the major arteries in this township, it’s a dangerous road to ride your bicycle on, there’s a need for a safety path; it will complete the network up in that area,” Crane said.