“I wasn't sure what kind of reception I'd get,” Gallagher jokingly told council before he talked about the township's recent purchase of property at the northeast corner of M-104 and Fruitport Road for a potential new fire station.
No shots were fired, but lots of questions were — including why council members weren't consulted prior to the township finalizing the purchase earlier this month.
“I'm all for good fire protection,” Councilman Mark Miller said Tuesday. “We want these guys to have the best things. The thing I have trouble with, and I know other council members feel the same way, is why the township decided to do this without even asking us.”
Miller told Gallagher he was “uncomfortable” with the township's actions.
“I feel like we're being invaded,” Miller said.
Gallagher said the proposed project is a good opportunity for the municipalities to work together on what the community could someday consider a “wow” project. He said the location of the land is strategic and that a government use would make a nice buffer between commercial and residential lands.
The Township Board determined the best time to purchase the lots was when they became available, Gallagher said.
The two parcels that the township purchased — for a combined $390,000 — stretch from Fruitport Road east to the Burger King property line.
The land is currently zoned for residential use. The village's Master Plan projects it to remain that way; any other use would require action by the village's Planning Commission.
“We're in a time when everyone is collaborating and working together, and for some reason the township decided to do this without even asking us,” Miller said. “I think we should have met with them, had discussions and looked at plans. This should have all been done before the property purchase.”
Miller said he learned of the township's plans through David and Darcy Dye, who own the home at 114 N. Fruitport Road. Miller is chairman of the village's Historic Conservation Commission — which, last month, at the request of the Dyes, designated the 1918 home as historic.
The township has approached the Dyes about purchasing their property, which would add space and square off the now-township-owned land.
“We were the last ones to find out about the township's plans,” Miller said. “We feel that the trust between the two entities has been violated since they did this without talking with us. They left us out of it and we don't know what they're up to."
Gallagher noted it is still “early in the process” — and that the township intends to involve neighbors, Village Council and the community in the planning stages.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.