“Today we celebrate a visible beginning, a new milestone in the journey of the Meridian Township Fire Department,” Fire Chief Frederick Cowper said at Tuesday’s ceremonial groundbreaking on the site at Central Park Drive and Okemos Road.
The new station, with an estimated cost of just over $3 million, is expected to open by Dec. 15. The 10,800 square foot building will include three equipment bays, offices, separate sleeping quarters for male and female personnel and a community meeting room.
“I think it will be inspiring,” Cowper said of the new station, “and certainly it is going to be critically needed.”
The groundbreaking turns a page on what has been a contentious journey.
Voters approved a $3.5 million millage issue in November 2012.
In August 2013, residents of the nearby Autumn Park Condominiums mounted the first of many legal challenges, all of which were ultimately dismissed.
Autumn Park residents have steadfastly opposed the new station, saying the complex to be built across Central Park Drive from their homes will diminish their quality of life and affect their property values.
One appeal stemmed from a March 24, 2014 decision by the planning commission to approve a site plan and special use permit for the project, with Autumn Park residents arguing a review was not done at the proper time.
Residents also contended five township board trustees had unlawfully persuaded planning commission members to vote for the site plan and permit.
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