Wet blanket tossed on fire barn

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:01 PM

After a motion Tuesday night to recommend to Village Council approval of rezoning that could pave the way for an 18,800-square-foot township hall/fire barn on the 2.4-acre site, commissioners deadlocked in a 3-3 vote. That means Village Council will have no recommendation from planners when it considers the township’s request to rezone the site from single-family residential to semi-public/planned unit development.

“I thought the case for passage was very strong,” Township Manager John Nash said after the tie vote.

Township Deputy Fire Chief Jim Koster said it’s a worthwhile project.

“I’m hoping Village Council will see that,” he said. “This is a good project — not just for the township, not just for the village, but for all of Spring Lake.”

Traffic engineers, architects and a retired fire chief spoke to village planners on the township’s behalf, noting that the site is centrally located and would provide faster response times, thus having the potential to save more lives.

Firefighters could have control of the traffic light at Fruitport Road and M-104, speeding up their exit from the facility.

According to Township Fire Chief Brian Sipe, more than 70 percent of all runs are medical emergencies, and the majority of trips from the fire facility would not require full sirens and lights.

Sipe said the department has outgrown its current facilities, and many newer fire trucks no longer fit in the bays.

With the many new residential developments in the village, Sipe said the department wants to “stay ahead of the curve” with service and response times.

“What if it was your husband, or wife, or child or you that needed help?” he asked commissioners. “Would noise be a hindrance at that time? Some people think the sound of a siren is almost comforting because it means help is on the way. We want to make sure we’re putting our fire station into an area where the calls are going to be and where it will be the most effective.”

Village planning consultant Carmen Avantini told the commission that he thought the proposal is a good design, an appropriate use for that corner and consistent with the village’s master plan. He said other allowed uses — such as medical offices, banks or commercial buildings less than 10,000 square feet — could generate more traffic than a municipal use.

“I felt this is the least intense use you could get,” Avantini said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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