Detroit coun­cil de­lays land swap vote; plan faces suit

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY CHRIS­TINE FER­RETTI and NICQUEL TERRY The Detroit News

— The City Coun­cil on Tues­day post­poned its de­ci­sion on a pro­posed land deal with Wayne County that would help pave the way for Dan Gil­bert to build a $520 mil­lion crim­i­nal jus­tice com­plex on city-owned land near In­ter­state 75 and War­ren.

The de­ci­sion came just a few hours af­ter a res­i­dent filed a law­suit against Detroit to stop of­fi­cials from au­tho­riz­ing the deal which would give the county 11 acres of city-owned Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion prop­erty on War­ren Av­enue in ex­change for the shut­tered Amer­i­can Mo­tors Corp. head­quar­ters on Detroit’s west side.

Ni­cholas Miller, who lives three blocks from the site and has or­ga­nized res­i­dents against the plan, filed the com­plaint Tues­day morn­ing in Wayne County Cir­cuit Court, al­leg­ing the jail would dis­rupt his qual­ity of life and cause a “con­sid­er­able loss in prop­erty value.”

Miller is ask­ing the city be re­quired to com­plete a traf­fic and air qual­ity study be­fore ap­prov­ing the swap. The city, Miller con­tends, has a “statu­tory duty” to pro­tect his prop­erty when ap­prov­ing land use changes.

For ex­am­ple, the law­suit points out the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs hasn’t com­pleted an emis­sions study de­spite the War­ren Av­enue area fac­ing high rates of asthma re­lated to the Detroit In­cin­er­a­tor. It also says city code re­quires a mit­i­ga­tion plan if a pro­posed project will cre­ate traf­fic is­sues.

Mayor Mike Dug­gan and coun­cil mem­bers also are named as de­fen­dants in the law­suits.

Af­ter de­bate, coun­cil mem­bers tabled the swap plan un­til a for­mal ses­sion Nov. 21.

Detroit Coun­cil­man Gabe Le­land ac­knowl­edged prior to de­lay­ing the mea­sure to next week that “there’s no per­fect deal.” Af­ter, Le­land said he wants to en­sure res­i­dents’ con­cerns are ad­dressed.

“I know that there are lo­gis­ti­cal con­cerns that I’m need­ing a lit­tle bit more in­for­ma­tion on be­fore I vote next Tues­day to make sure that the com­mu­nity is not given a raw deal,” Le­land said.

The swap is a key piece to the pro­posal by Gil­bert, chair­man of Quicken Loans Inc., to build the jail on the DDOT prop­erty un­der the con­di­tion that Wayne County ac­quires the land from the city.

Dur­ing pub­lic com­ment Tues­day, Miller told the coun­cil that he’s con­cerned about the im­pact of the pro­posed fa­cil­ity on neigh­bor­hoods and the nearby Go­lightly Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter.

“I re­ally don’t un­der­stand how this has moved for­ward so quickly,” he said. “... It’s not a place for a county court­house. That’s re­ally what it boils down to.”

Miller said his law­suit was filed in an ef­fort to force the city to “fol­low proper steps for re­zon­ing” the site.

“My ar­gu­ment is this is not a gov­ern­ment pur­pose of the city. It’s a gov­ern­ment pur­pose for the county,” he said.

Some coun­cil mem­bers sup­port the plan, but most said they want more time to vet it.

Coun­cil­man Ge­orge Cush­ing­berry said he doesn’t think the jail will be a safety is­sue for the neigh­bor­hood and that the city could reroute traf­fic to ad­dress any con­cerns with schools.

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