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Posted on Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

$2.275M grant will let Washtenaw County buy 54 acres of Domino's Farms land for preservation

By Amy Biolchini

Washtenaw County will receive $2.275 million to purchase a 54-acre parcel of Domino’s Farms land to turn into a park.

The move was among a wave of $38 million in grant allocations signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder .


Part of the Domino's Farms property, where 54 acres east of the office building will be sold to Washtenaw County for preservation purposes.

Statewide, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants announced Wednesday will support 99 recreation and land acquisition projects.

With a 25 percent local match from the county, an undeveloped, wooded parcel between Ford and Plymouth Roads in Ann Arbor Township will be purchased from DF Land Development through the county’s Natural Areas Preservation Program.

The parcel will connect trails at the city-owned Marshall Nature Area to the east with trails on the University of Michigan-owned Horner-McLaughlin Woods and the county's Raymond F. Goodrich Preserve to the north, creating about 270 acres of land with trails for public use, said Tom Freeman, NAPP coordinator.

The partnerships among the city, county and university will make the trail system a unique one, Freeman said.

Washtenaw County’s Parks and Recreation Commission has already approved the local match for the project of about $758,000.

After working out a project agreement with the state and providing appraisals of the property, the county will be able to go forward with the purchase. Freeman said he hopes the deal is sealed by the end of the year.

“This has been a property that a lot of people have been interested in for a long time,” Freeman said.

The cost of the 54-acre parcel is pricier than the county has paid to purchase much of the 1,850 acres in its NAPP program: About $56,000 per acre for the Domino’s Farms land versus the average of $10,000 per acre.

When the county submitted the grant application in spring 2011, the parcel was appraised at $3.2 million, said John Petz, director of real estate and public affairs for Domino’s Farms.

Because the 54-acre parcel is in a water and sewer district, its property value is higher, Petz said. Infrastructure surrounding the site is ready to accommodate any development on the property, Petz said.

Domino’s Farms 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. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2011.

“We came into this relationship with the county because of that lawsuit,” Petz said. “There was a period of mediation, and this opportunity started to emerge and we were put in that direction.”

There are trails on the 54-acre parcel of Domino’s Farms land because of a natural western boundary it shares with the Marshall Nature Area.

“It’s a reasonable use for the property and speaks to a larger opportunity … of having this whole interconnected larger preserve area,” Petz said.

The last piece of the interconnected system of parks is a 5-acre parcel between the Domino’s Farms property - which the county expects to purchase _ and the university’s Horner-McLaughlin Woods. Domino’s Farms has pledged to sell it to the county through its regular acquisition process in the NAPP program.

“We’d commence that when this parcel closes,” Petz said.

The 54-acre parcel is the second land purchase the county has made of Domino’s Farms property - the first of which was a 10-acre parcel to expand the Goodrich preserve.

The successful transaction paved the way for the collaboration between Domino’s Farms and the county to apply for the trust fund grant.

“It’s a county application but … it was truly a partnership to get it to that point,” Petz said.

Other projects in Washtenaw County that received funding through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant allocations are:

  • $3 million to the Recreation Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to buy 2,000 acres in southern Jackson and Washtenaw counties for a new River Raisin Recreation Area
  • $300,000 to the City of Ann Arbor for renovations to the Gallup Park Livery, including barrier-free access to the building and docks, energy improvements, building updates and trail work
  • $300,000 to the City of Ann Arbor for the Veterans Memorial Park Skate Park
  • $300,000 to the City of Ypsilanti for renovations of the Rutherford Pool
  • $289,400 to the City of Ypsilanti for the construction of a bridge over the river underneath of Michigan Avenue, and for a fishing pier

Courtesy of Washtenaw County Natural Areas Preservation Program

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

Just in time for the election: Privatization King / Gov. $nyder comes up with a publicizaton law (aka, govt. handout). Another sacrifice to the opposition to make it appear Republicans are on our side - just means election years are good for us serfs (uh, citizens).

Bob Krzewinski

Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

On those who think this parkland purchase is a waste of money, keep in mind Washtenaw County voters approved funding the Washtenaw County Natural Areas Preservation Program in 2000 and again in 2010. This tax money can only be used for land purchases. Simply stated, a majority of voters in the County WANT more parkland.

Lorraine Gutierrez

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

oh, let's make sure the facts don't get in the way of opinion!


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Why not buy up some of the old trailer park lands in Ypsilanti Twp. and start a "Trailers to trails" program?


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Love it. Not. Would love to see parks there mostly. Make Ypsilanti just as green.

Rugeirn Drienborough

Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

Could we have a follow-up on the new River Raisin Recreation area? That's clearly the really big story here.


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

This is not the role of government buying up land. If the land was truly needed declare imminent domain and take the land but for heavens sakes don;t waste on our money on trivial land acquistions that will benefit a mere handful of people.


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

It would be great to have an interactive map we can enlarge and use. Joining together existing parkland with this purchase is great.


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 10:18 a.m.

This is taxpayer funded - state mineral royalties ($2,275k useful public monies) and county millage ($768k tax). While Washtenaw may have tax/park authority, law is made by geographic government - A2 township in this case. Can future local government rezone (or lease) these NAPP parks for landfill or windmill or other use ? $56,000 per petting zoo acre? Oh yeah,we are all FOR (Friends of Rick). Want another donkey ride?


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 4:11 a.m.

What a waste of tax dollars. We really need a new park? How about jobs.

Alpha Alpha

Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

...they'll take pizza dice and put up parks a lot...


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 12:36 a.m.

This is great and all but it seems like they try to turn everything into a park...."It's a tree, let's preserve it and turn it into a public park that no one will use......."


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

Perfect... the planned green ring around cement tree town is almost complete. Come 12/21/12 at midnight, a coded signal from the remote art stick in front of city hall will trigger city blast off taking the entraped taxpayer where nobody has gone before. Leaving only a peaceful lake below


Tue, Aug 7, 2012 : 3:47 a.m.

Um. What?!


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Cool. Can't wait to go.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

Greenbelt-meets-Mayan calendar haiku. You don't get that in Livingston County.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

This is wonderful. It will make beautiful park land for the people. It has some historic trees and being adjacent to Marshall Nature area adds to it's value as a park. Does anyone know the geological significance of the hills in that area? In the fall the trees there are beautiful.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

Great news!


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

I love that the taxpayers are buying up all of this land. It makes my home more valuable because nothing else can be built in my area. Affordable housing is overrated, but it does make good conversation at a liberal cocktail party............


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

And we couldn't get a grant to fix the stadium bridge......


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

But we did and I heard they are ahead of schedule due to this hot and dry weather.

Reality Check

Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

I agree with DOG GUY and SPARTY! Stop taking land off the tax rolls! Our County government should not be in the business of parks, golf courses, and pools.

C.C. Ingersoll

Sun, Aug 5, 2012 : 2:23 a.m.

Domino's Farms never paid property taxes. When it was owned by the Monahan's it was considered a "Theme Park" for tax purposes because it featured a 1 room 'museum' devoted to rare FLW furniture. I worked there in 1987. I'm pretty sure that since the UofM rents it that it DOES pay taxes now.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Instead of hoarding all the land they can how about keep the fire stations open that you closed. What about more police? If you have that much money why don't you buy some land for the homeless since you just ran them out of Ann Arbor a month ago. You could have bought some unused building that's setting empty and housed them!!! We have enough parks for crying out loud. Take the control out of these people's hands.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

What? Is this the party of small government? Spending tax money on park, recreation, and land acquisition projects? Sounds suspiciously like Democratic policies. Gasp, the outrage. The affront. The horror. Is he printing money? Or after taking it all away from retirees and teachers, firemen and policemen, does he have so much money, is this just loose change now?

Nancy Shiffler

Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

The Michigan Natural Features Trust Fund money comes from state oil and gas royalties from wells on state lands, not from taxes.

John of Saline

Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

Will the county get a few buffalo?


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

I heard buffalo make good eating

Dog Guy

Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

More prime commercial land removed from the tax rolls forever! More government expense to maintain it! How are such tax parasites as I to be supported if the tax base continues to dwindle?

C.C. Ingersoll

Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

That's fantastic! Every time I drive by I give thanks that they never started/completed their "Leaning Tower of Pizza" out there. It'll be nice that Marshall park gets a buffer zone instead of a golf course!

John of Saline

Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

I only recently found out that the leaning wooden thing on the property was a model of that proposed tower.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

They should make that land a pizza factory and bring some jobs into the area. Domino's could make pizza much faster with an assembly line making the pizzas. They could be high paying jobs too if the UAW and unionize the workers. It might take some striking but it would be worth it. In addition Domino's would have a large educated pool of people to choose from for their factory since Washtenaw is a great higher education county.


Sat, Aug 4, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

You would eat their pizza? Their food? I would rather see something else go there then that. Now I can see the negative numbers you have. Yuck to Dominoes. They treat their workers like 2nd class citizens.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Marshall is to the east, not the west, I believe.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

@foobar417, you're correct. Marshall Nature Area is east of the parcel the county intends on purchasing with the grant. I've fixed the error in the story.