Proposed urgent care project in Fabius suspended

Fabius supervisor: ‘Agree to disagree’ with city on 425 negotiations

FABIUS TWP. — A proposed urgent care center project along the U.S. 131 corridor looks to be on life support.

At Wednesday’s Fabius Township board meeting, Township Supervisor Ken Linn gave an update on negotiations with the city for a Public Act 425 agreement for a proposed WellNow Urgent Care center on the southwest corner of Millard Road and U.S. 131, saying the township has to “agree to disagree” with the City of Three Rivers on a key point in PA 425 negotiations.

Both Fabius and the city have been going back and forth on which entity gets jurisdiction of the property after the 50 years of the proposed PA 425 agreement is up, the city or the township. With no resolution to that question and both sides seemingly not budging on their stances, negotiations between the two entities have reached a standstill, with no progress seemingly in sight.

“Basically, what they’re saying is, on that remaining point of contention, that they need the property to go back to them and they need us to return the money,” Linn said. “We view it as revenue sharing, which is what exactly what it’s called, and we don’t see it as a quid pro quo as a purchase or anything like that. Unless there’s a drastic change of opinion on this board, I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.”

The issue of whether or not there would be a PA 425 agreement for the facility began back in October, when township board members floated the idea of a franchise agreement instead of a 425. The township claimed doing so would keep properties under the tax jurisdiction of the township, but allow the city to collect utility money from buildings or properties created.

Conversely, a 425 agreement would allow for two or more local units, in this case Fabius Township and the City of Three Rivers, to conditionally transfer property for a period of 50 years or less for the purpose of an economic development project. Under the agreement, businesses can receive city water and sewer services. After the period of time is up, the land can either stay with or revert to one of the local units, depending on how the agreement is written up.

The board previously voted 5-0 in May to reject the city’s 425 offer, the most recent action taken on either side regarding the situation.

Following the meeting, Linn said because of the state of negotiations, WellNow has “suspended” its proposed project in the township, and said they are now “focusing on other projects” with its expansion.

During discussion, Stan Brueck, a resident who has an investment in the properties proposed for the project, reminded the board that a couple of the properties in question for the project – the offices directly on the corner and the old Fabius-Park Fire Department fire house – have city sewer and water and under a 425 agreement that states the properties would go back to the township upon expiration. He wondered if the two properties can be combined.

“The time length would be shorter than 50 years, and they’re going to combine the two properties anyway. That’s the whole purpose of what they’re going to do, because they’re going to own all of it,” Brueck said.

Linn said he wasn’t sure if that was going to work, but said he will talk with Brueck more at a later date as well as their township attorney, Roxanne Seeber.

Linn and Township Clerk Carol Wilkins opined the reason why the city might not allow new 425 agreements to go back to the township is because of a proposed project with the South County Sewer and Water Authority to potentially bring water and sewer services to commercial and industrial businesses along the U.S. 131 corridor within the next few years. The township recently signed a letter of intent to research the feasibility of the project.

“That’s probably what they’re seeing. They know we’re working on sewer and water, so they want all 425 agreements to say that the property will never come back to us,” Linn said. “There’s a few oddballs that didn’t get done quite right, but most of them are on the west side of 131.”

Overall, Linn said the two sides are trying to “protect their own interest” at the moment.

“We have a township board and we have a city council, and they both have to protect their own interest and you can’t always get those horses going in the same direction, and that’s what you have now,” Linn said.

In other business…

  • The board discussed an “informal proposal” for ambulance service prices with Three Rivers Ambulance. Currently, Linn said the township is paying $16.05 per capita for ambulance service, with the proposed rate going up to $20.48 per capita. No action was taken, with Linn saying conversations are still ongoing.
  • The board approved Trustee Judy Holman to be the deputy clerk for the township.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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