PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI-The township has bought about 530 acres to prevent a large mixed-use development. The $300.5 million proposed Newmarket project would have boosted the township’s population by 10% and created a traffic nightmare, Township Clerk Christina Lirones tells GlobeSt.com.

“It was just a terrible idea,” she says. “There are no roads or enough water and sewer there, and it was a tremendous low, wet area that would have been covered with impervious surfaces.”

The mixed-use village was to include retail space, offices, apartments and single-family homes.

The Pittsfield Township board of trustees paid for an appraisal for the 530-acre parcel, located along I-94, US 23 and US 12 near Ann Arbor. Recently, the board voted to pay Real Estate Interests Group Inc. of Bloomfield Township and Newmarket LLC $11.3 million for the property.

The companies had announced plans to build 1,100 dwelling units in one organized village and two “hamlets,” as well as 120,000 sf of retail and office space.

Housing types would have included senior apartments, traditional homes and villas.

The former township board approved the development with a 4-3 vote last year. However, all of the four proponents were not elected to the board in November, and the majority of the new board was against the plan.

Residents signed petitions protesting the development, and gathered enough to force a vote to approve or deny the project during the next August primary.

The developers then sued the township in Washtenaw County Circuit Court to prevent the vote. Meanwhile, they negotiated with the board in private to reach a settlement.

“We’re looking at building a new public recreation facility, a $3-million to$5-million water reservoir and public safety building,” Lirones says. “It will depend on when we can get funding. Much of the land will remain public.”

She says it is possible that excess land could be sold off. Meanwhile, a community group will work with the board to decide how to use the property, Lirones says.

The township has already grown in population to 30,000 people, about 70% more than what it had in 1990.

The growth is indicative of the move of Detroit area residents to the north and west.

“We’re swamped with development,” Lirones says. “There’s more than 1,000 new units in final appraisal status right now, and thousands more going through various phases. There’s virtually no open land left. This purchase was a true bargain. It would have cost us more than $11 million to deal with it.”