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Posted on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Citizen opposition may stall plan to build new Chelsea police station

By Art Aisner

A new police station in downtown Chelsea, all but a foregone conclusion just a few months ago, is in limbo.

Plans to issue $2.5 million in bonds and to hire an architect were under way well into late March, but a groundswell of citizen opposition has stopped the proposal from moving forward.


The current Chelsea police station.

Citing concerns about the traffic, cost and timing of the project, the citizens made a last-ditch effort to oppose the station through word-of-mouth and door-knocking campaigns. Last month their efforts led to a surprising 4-3 vote by planning commissioners to deny the city’s zoning request to build at the corner of Main and Summit streets.

City Council can overlook the commission’s recommendation and approve the project anyway at its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday. But Mayor Jason Lindaur said he’s not sure the matter will be up for a vote.

“We’re in desperate need of a new police station, that fact is undeniable, but we’re listening and working with the residents to try and address their concerns,” he said.

Six residents spoke out against the project at the previous council meeting.

“It might be the right thing, but it’s not the right time,” said Robert Daniel, who lives within a block of the proposed location.


This sign can be seen in the Chelsea police station.

He admitted opposition started because he and other neighbors didn’t want a police station “in their back yard.” But it spread to other parts of the city when the scope and price tag of the proposal became known.

Many wondered if an 11,000-square-foot facility with holding cells and City Council chambers was needed, and worried about future operational costs not covered in the bond. They also argued several existing properties, such as the Palmer Ford building on Main Street, vacated due to the recession could make a suitable home.

About 650 residents signed a petition requesting the bond issue appear on the November ballot, but it was denied on a technicality. Daniel said that the citizens have consulted with a lawyer who intends to draft a letter contesting the city’s decision.

“There’s genuine voter frustration because we’re in a recession, we’re a middle-class town, and we’re wondering why our taxes aren’t going down when all the property values are,” Daniel said.

City officials declined to discuss the petition since it is now a legal matter.

Ed Toth 04-22-10.jpg

Ed Toth

City Manager John Hanifan said the bonds would not immediately raise residents' tax rates but they would be paid off with general fund dollars. He plans to give a presentation Tuesday night about the need for a new station that will include a timeline of the many times it has been discussed and delayed since 1993.

Police Chief Ed Toth said he understands the need for further discussion now that vocal opposition has surfaced. However, he’s not hiding frustration over the lack of progress on a station, something that’s been discussed by city officials for nearly 20 years.

“My goal is to have a highly-regarded, professional police agency and it’s hard to do our job in this spot,” he said, noting problems with black mold and rodents in the current facility at 104 E. Middle St. “It’s not a functional facility.”

Council Member Rod Anderson, who voted against the project, said he was glad to see citizens energized by the issue.

“When this was approved there were no citizens speaking out about it,” he said. “I think the planning commission listened to the people and said we don’t want to do this right now.”

Art Aisner is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 4:11 p.m.

I do agree that the Police Department needs a new building,and I support the Police. But this is just he wrong time right now. If the current economic situation was not so bad I would support this 100%


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.

Economic conditions suggest this is an unusually bad time to burden voters with new expensive projects. We'd all like a nicer place to work; sometimes delaying gratification is prudent; that time is now. How many area residents are happy with other recent public projects? Anyone?


Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 7:43 p.m.

Chief Toth is cute :)

John Q

Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

"While denying the new buidling the tax payers should demand that the cops lose their pensions and go to 401k's like the rest of us." Switching from a pension system to 401ks will likely cause the city's retirement costs to go up, not down, for at least the next several years, and possibly longer.


Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 1:10 p.m.

The problem with this very real issue is that the current facilities are woefully inadequate, the Chelsea Police have been doing the best they can with what they have. However due to the current status of our economy, it doesn't seem fiscally responsible to do this right now. The crime rate is not going to go down in the foreseeable future, so support those there to protect us!


Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 11:54 a.m.

gee, compared to A2's new building 2.5 million doesn't sound like very much at all


Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

Nice mold remediantion sign. Sure, get rid of their pensions. Why do they do to deserve anything? Just farm the work out to Walmart. Their employees can take a bullet for less money. Of course, the good citizens of Chelsea won't have to pay any medical bills, since the Walmart Police of Chelsea will have to look to the State for that.

Brian Richards

Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 8:21 a.m.

(That was random) Why cut pensions? Jealous? Besides, they deserve it..


Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 7:27 a.m.

Government out of touch and out of control. While denying the new buidling the tax payers should demand that the cops lose their pensions and go to 401k's like the rest of us.


Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 7:08 a.m.

That is what we got in Northfield Township for the 8000 residents that we have. That's exactly what we needed were more taxes and police