The exact location of a 25-acre parcel of land that a special Wayland City Council committee is negotiating for sale to developers Josh Otto of Dorr and Wayland High School graduate Keith Nickels has been misidentified by Townbroadcast.com and disputed by local businessman Bruce Schwartz in a recent letter to the editor.
Townbroadcast published a photo earlier this week at the corner of 133rd Avenue and Reno Drive, but the land shown in back of the street sign was on the southeast portion of the intersection in the industrial park. Schwartz, referring to the location in a letter subsequent to a story published Monday evening, said, “The photo location is incorrect, this is the southeast corner of 133rdStreet & Reno. The land in question is within the northeast corner of 133rd Street and Reno, north to the wood line and east to the railroad tracks.”
Receiving a tip from a reader, Townbroacast was told the property at issue actually is on the southwest corner of Reno and 133rd, and the site includes these wetlands with signage saying so.
However, further complicating the matter, another businessman opposing the sale, Bob Genther, said, “The land picture is of Reno Drive, south of 133rd Avenue. Both the east corner and west corner of that area was purchased by the Gun Lake Tribe. Those wetland signs are on some of what they bought two years ago from Mercantile Bank.
“The land Mr. Otto and Mr. Nickels are trying to buy is a large ‘L’ shaped parcel with frontage on Reno, north of the Robinson Dental office, and frontage on 133rd in the open space between F&AM (Frigmanski’s) and the Rockwell International office. That parcel does go east all the way to the railroad, behind Rockwell and the residence to the east of Rockwell.”
The city tentatively agreed to sell the site for $20,000 to Otto and Nickels, but there has been a backlash since from local businessmen, who maintain the price is far too cheap and the property should have been put up for bids. A sign listing the property has included a price of $52,500 per acre, but the city has failed to sell the parcel for 19 years. Two manufacturers, one from Holland and another from Portage, were offered the site for $1 with a tax abatement of 50% over 12 years, but both offers were rejected.
Holding up the sale over the years has been the presence of these wetlands, which some state officials say could cost the developer as much as $1 million. This factor prompted the city to make the two $1 offers in 2014.
A three-council member committee is meeting with developers and their representatives and a proposal is expected to be offered at the June 19 City Council meeting.