Updated: 54 acres of Domino's Farms property eyed for land preservation, but price is high
This article was updated Tuesday morning to include comments from John Petz, the director of government and community relations for Domino’s Farms Corporation.
A 54-acre piece of Domino’s Farms property is the latest contender for preservation under Washtenaw County’s Natural Areas Preservation Program.
Tuesday, the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission will decide whether to apply for a state grant would help offset the majority of the asking price estimated to be $1.9 million to $3.25 million. That move would put future county matching funds for the grant in the $474,000 to $812,500 range, while the state, ideally for the county’s purposes, would cough up the remainder.
“If that were acquired, it would result in a large interconnected nature preserve of nearly 300 acres within the Ann Arbor urban area,” said Tom Freeman, the deputy director of Parks and Recreation.
Photo courtesy of Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation
The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund land acquisition grant application is due April 1, and the state typically announces awards in December. If plans move forward and the grant is approved, the county would expect funding to come through in 2012.
At roughly $35,000 to $60,000 per acre, the asking price is high, said Robert Tetens, director of the Parks and Recreation. On this piece, Tetens said a state grant as well as fiscal collaboration between Ann Arbor Township and the Ann Arbor Greenbelt - the city’s land preservation program - might all be necessary to close the deal.
“It’s very close within the urban area,” Freeman said. “It has a high value because of that location. Without the assistance of the trust fund, it would be very unlikely county parks would be able to afford it.”
The cost has averaged about $10,000 an acre, Tetens said.
DF Land Development has discussed selling the missing link between the properties to the north, a five-acre sliver of land, to the county later at a cheaper price, Freeman said. A deal on that connection is contingent on the larger deal going through, Freeman said.
There is still a chance the land could be developed, said John Petz, the director of government and community relations for Domino’s Farms Corporation. The water and sewer hook-ups give the land a higher value and mean the property is development-ready, but it’s zoned for general agricultural use.
Domino’s filed a lawsuit after Ann Arbor Township officials refused in 2004 to rezone the property for the development called The Vistas, halting plans for the development of roughly 290 attached condominiums. If the Michigan Court of Appeals reverses an earlier decision that favored the township, the case will go to trial in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, Petz said.
But the company is also interested in selling to the county, Petz said. In either scenario, the process could be derailed at some point, he added.
If a sale to the county were to go through, “It potentially could alleviate a lot of concerns from a development standpoint, if that’s what some elected officials have. But it’s going to be a process, on both ends.”
Officials from Ann Arbor Township did not return calls to AnnArbor.com on Monday.
The commission meets 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission administrative offices, 2230 Platt Road in Ann Arbor.