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HURON TOWNSHIP, MI-The Court of Appeals for the State of Michigan has ruled that land can betaken for the multi-million mixed-use project called Pinnacle Aeropark,that’s proposed for 1,300 acres of largely empty and unused real propertylocated in mostly Huron Township.However, the owners plan to appeal the ruling, said their attorney, AlanAckerman of Troy.

Wayne County had tried to take possession of about 500 acres of the propertyby buying the land from 12 owners, using $21 million in Federal AviationAdministration funds. The county used eminent domain to sue for the landafter the owners refused to sell.

The County Circuit Court denied a motion by the owners for summarydisposition, allowing the county to proceed with the condemnation and takingof the land. The owners took it higher, and the Appeals Court affirmed thecircuit court’s decision in late April.

The owners tried to argue that the land would not be used for a publicpurpose. However, the Appeals Court said that in Michigan, eminent domaincan be used for “projects that would benefit the public.”

“We hold that the Pinnacle Project is necessary for the people of WayneCounty, and that defendants’ property is necessary for the PinnacleProject,” said the court in its opinion.

The owners also tried to argue that since no developer has been assigned theproject, that it is speculative, and no taking is necessary. The court said,however, that the reason a developer is not assigned is because the ownersare holding up the project.

“While the eventual tenants of the Pinnacle Project are unknown, thetechnology park and its boundaries are known,” the court said. “It wouldappear to be strategically difficult to build this complex commercialdevelopment literally around defendants largely vacant properties.”

The court said that the public benefit of the project clearly overrides theprivate benefit. It will increase the tax base, improve the county’s image, and bring in morebusiness to an area that has seen too many businesses leave. “[The county] seeks to advance the interests of the people,” the court said.

Ackerman told GlobeSt.com that he’s filed a motion to set aside the opinion.The owners should be compensated more if private companies are going tobenefit from the land, Ackerman said.”This is the first time a completely non-public use is being proposed ineminent domain [in the state],” said Ackerman. “The people are not beingmade whole. This is a money issue as well as a basic rights of propertyownership issue.”

The Aeropark land is located just south of Wayne County’s DetroitMetropolitan Airport. A few years ago, the Pinnacle Aeropark project was tobe developed by one developer. Two strong local developers, the late HeinzPrechter of Heritage Development and Schostak Bros. both made strongproposals to earn the development rights.The county tried to get the two developers to come together for a jointdevelopment, but the deal didn’t happen. Thus, the county decided to handlethe selling of land and development on its own.

This park seeks to create a state-of-the-art real estate development thatbuilds on and complements airport investment. The vision is to transformapproximately 1,300 acres of underutilized, county-owned land in the airportarea into a high-quality, mixed-business/technology park, with accompanyinghotels, retail shopping centers, and other amenities, including a golfcourse.

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