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Posted on Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

Could Dexter have 'green energy' streetlights with wind turbines, solar panels at LaFontaine Chevrolet?

By Lisa Allmendinger

Demolition_at_ LaFontaine_Chevy.JPG

This summer's demolition at LaFontaine Chevrolet.

Lisa Allmendinger |

Dexter’s east entrance might have a very different look if the idea of one businessman becomes a reality.

Matt LaFontaine, general manager of LaFontaine Chevrolet, approached the Village of Dexter with a concept plan that includes a combination wind turbine, a solar panel and an LED streetlight manufactured by Urban Green Energy for the dealership at 7120 Dexter-Ann Arbor Road.

The decorative streetlight is a hybrid that’s made of steel and powered by both wind and sun, which can be retrofitted to match what’s already part of the village lighting landscape. LaFontaine said he was considering using them on up to seven streetlights at the site along Dexter-Ann Arbor Road.

The addition could become another green part of LaFontaine’s new dealership plan that includes a 32,000-square-foot commercial building, office, auto repair shop and car wash, which is currently under construction.

The project is in the first of two phases that have been slowed by rainy weather this fall, but LaFontaine expects to have the flooring poured inside the first building by the end of January and to occupy that building by April, then move on to the second phase.

The site is being reconfigured for a two-phase development that includes the demolition of the used car trailer, existing sales building and changes to the west side of the site. Included in the plan is a new sales building, curbs, paving, lights and landscaping. LaFontaine said the Highland car dealership, which has a gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building certification for design, construction and operation is being used by the town’s school district, as well as other cities, as an education tool. He’d like the new Dexter dealership to be looked at as a business leader in environmentally friendly practices.

He hopes to achieve a silver LEED rating in Dexter, which includes a charging station for four to eight electric vehicles and a solar roof on the building.

By showcasing the decorative on-site renewable energy streetlights, the 20-foot turbine could be a focal point that sends a message that Dexter is environmentally conscious, he said, and the lights also could be used as an educational tool for schools.

Village President Shawn Keough said he thought the idea “was really cool” and something that perhaps the village could look at as part of its park plan on the west entrance to the village and the unique eco-friendly street lights could become “a common thread.”

He said he’d asked LaFontaine to introduce his idea to the Village Council to get their opinions.

Currently, the village does not have any ordinances governing alternative energy sources such as wind turbines, but this small streetlight design, which includes a turbine and solar panel, can be modified to match the decorative street lighting that’s currently in the village.

LaFontaine said the decorative streetlights could become a trademark for Dexter “It could make us unique,” he said, adding that he’d like the turbine to be incorporated into a planned piece of public art slated for the corner of Dexter Ann Arbor Road and Ryan Drive.

He plans to next take his green idea to the village’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee for their input.

The Planning Commission, during its final review of the plan, said that this corner is a significant intersection in the village and requested a prominent architectural feature or positive visual landmark to meet the village’s landscape and architectural standards.

The new dealership is an about $7 million investment in the village that is expected to add 50 to 100 new jobs with sales of about 2,000 cars a year.

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at For more Dexter stories, visit our Dexter page.



Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Please check facts, and/or proofread, before reporting. It is doubtful that Mr. LaFontaine uttered the exact statement ascribed to him ("LaFontaine said the Highland Park car dealership..."). Highland, MI, not Highland Park, MI, is the location of the "home office" of the LaFontaine organization.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

I wish it was Highland Park. They could use his tax dollars.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

ITS about time that Michigan goes " GREEN "..what is the hold-up ..we need money now and this it he best way and it has been succesful in danemark. Europe and the middle east ..Sahara desert ALl paneled..


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 7:08 p.m.

Govt. does a few things well and plenty of things badly...


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

I am not ashamed to say I sometimes like MORE government; I wholeheartly approve of more of my (and your) tax dollars being wasted on any or all of the following: * National Parks (Capitol Reef in UT is a fav) *Air traffic controllers and air marshals -- two awesome "big government" ideas . *The Centers for Disease Control and the dedicated scientists employed therein. *The Smithsonian Institution and any of its 19 museums. *WIC


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

Less govt Individual initiative Pragmatic decision making


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

...and? What is the example of the U.S.? Can you please elaborate on this? What enlightened energy policies and long range vision set us apart?


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

No, we should look at America.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

I agree, we should look instead to China as an example: loads of cash, a booming economy, and a heart warming reliance on fossil fuels (breathing optional!). <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

Europe is a poor example.... awash in debt, no money so no children.... welfare state and declining importance.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

LaFontaine is up on the top of a hill with no trees, they were cut down long ago. Dexter Village isn't. We get very little sun in the wintertime. 20 feet isn't very tall. Just a few thoughts.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

and...the headline doesn't make sense. I re-read it over and over.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

People should be able to spend or waste the money they earn without the govt. getting involved. If he wants to waste his money on wind turbines, he can knock himself out. Just don't give him my tax dollars to do it.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

For the uneducated <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:24 a.m.

Ok how about the poisoning of our water through mining rare earth metals used in the stators or the vanadium used in the lithium batteries etc etc etc


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 12:37 a.m.

Just for good measure, we shouldn't neglect to add the environmental costs of continued fossil fuel consumption to our kw/hour cost comparison: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 11:35 p.m.

Sure, as long we consider long-term health consequences (methyl mercury poisoning) in our &quot;real cost per kw/hour&quot; comparison: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

If you want to get into a real cost per kw/hour we can. Solar and Wind are not even close to coal or natural gas....


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

Do you have any problem with $41 billion a year to oil and gas companies in the form of federal tax breaks and subsidies? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

zip the cat

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

They can probably afford to do all these perks for there new buildings from all the repair work they hoodwink unsuspecting customers into doing to there cars/trucks at outta sight prices for repair parts. They charged me $59.00 for a thermostat plus labor to change it(it costs $6.39 at the local parts store). You take your vehicle to them for a specific problem and look out they tell you your vehicle needs 10 other things done to it . A total rip off


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 7:21 a.m.

Isn't that a good thing? You take your car in for a specific problem and then they tell you about other things that are wrong. I'm assuming it's your choice to have the other things fixed. What if your brakes were bad and they didn't tell you. You would probably say they were incompetent for not noticing.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

Love the idea and would be interested in the financials. Who is funding what? If the project breaks even (financially comp'ed to carbon based alternatives) then lets do it!! Go Dexter Go.! Businesses and Upper Middle class people need to take the lead in smart energy for all! ps To all the extremist wackos who hear the word &quot;Green&quot;and think &quot;YAY!&quot; (regardless of cost) OR wackos who hear the word &quot;Green&quot; and think &quot;global warming is a scam&quot;. Please open your mind and defy your ideology!

Scott G

Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Hi Bob, LaFontaine is fully funding this with their own money. Scott G.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

Is the &quot;GREEN ENERGY&quot; cheaper than carbon based energy? What are the &quot;SAVINGS&quot; for LaFontaine? Or is this just another &quot;CUTE&quot; green project?