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ROMEO, MI-Village officials are the latest in Michigan to discuss annexation as they consider adding 540 acres of vacant property from Washington Township for possible use for the state’s next mega mall. The village has been in talks with land owner Joe Karam about plans to sell the property to Taubman Centers Inc., one of the country’s largest mall developers, both in success and size of projects. Taubman most recently opened the 1.5 million-sf Shops at Willow Bend in Plano, TX on Aug. 3.

Romeo Clerk Marian McLaughlin says the village may consider annexing the property to provide it with water and sewer services. Currently, the township does not provide these services.

The annexation discussion for development projects is a current trend in Southeast Michigan.

A portion of Pontiac will vote soon whether to annex 80 acres in Bloomfield Township for a $2 billion mixed-use residential/office/retail development, called Bloomfield Park, by the Harbor Cos. Also, residential developer Robertson Bros. is considering annexation to push through a large condominium and single-family home development on 677 acres in Milford Township. Paul Robertson Jr., president, says he’s been talking to neighboring Wixom about switching the property to the city.

McLaughlin says she’s not in favor of the annexation plan.

“It’s not a really good idea. We’re very small, and we have a very historical area. The volume of people and the traffic would just kill us,” she says.

Washington and Bruce Townships, both in north Macomb County, have consistently ranked in the top five areas for the most residential development for the last five years. Most of the Detroit suburbs are moving out farther into the country areas, and Washington and Bruce have absorbed many new homes and businesses, with retail developments following quickly.

McLaughlin says Romeo would want to annex the property to recoup taxes to pay for water and sewer, as well as provide police and fire protection. The township, which surrounds the village, would still get one mill of the taxes just it does now, she says.

The clerk reiterated the talks have been just idle chatter, and no plans have been submitted, and village council has not made any type of movement in this direction.

Karen MacDonald, director of communications for Taubman, says the company may have discussed such plans with Karam years ago, but denied any discussions are going on now.

“We have nothing to announce. We don’t plan on building anything in Michigan at this point,” she says.

The last Taubman mall in Michigan was Great Lakes Crossing, a $200-million, 1.4 million-sf self-enclosed mall in Auburn Hills.

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