Dexter Council delays vacation of First Street right of way for new survey

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The city of Dexter still plans on vacating its part of the First Street right of way by Horseshoe Park, but that will have to wait until the land is properly surveyed.

The City Council tabled a decision on the matter following a public hearing Oct. 26. The sticking point is to make sure the city is vacating the correct width of land so as not to infringe upon DTE’s portion of the right of the way.

The city wants to vacate its portion of First Street so it can have the space to build a shed and pavilion at the park. The city learned through a survey in 2014 that a large portion of the park rested within the unimproved First Street right of way and the city was not be in compliance with the zoning ordinance.

As a result the city investigated how it would go about vacating its portion of the right of way. It was determined the council has the authority and the jurisdiction to vacate all or a portion of the right of way and the city attorney suggested a public hearing be convened.

The portion of the First Street ROW to be vacated stretches from the intersection at Edison Street south to Cottonwood Condominiums. The total area to be vacated measures 10,482 square feet, city documents show.

The area is 49 feet wide and 211 feet long, Community Development Manager Michelle Aniol said. The width became the crux of council discussions as Mayor Shawn Keough was concerned about vacating up to the centerline of the right of way.

Keough was concerned that since the right of way is 99 feet, the city should only vacate something less than 49.51 feet as a survey indicated.

Aniol suggested approving a resolution to vacate without any dimensions and then when OHM completes its survey make sure the amount vacated is less than 49 feet.
Keough suggested the council postpone the decision until the survey is completed.

One council member, Donna Fisher, who sat on the Parks Commission at the time, argued the city doesn’t need to vacate the right of way since there is sufficient land for a shed, which is all that was originally requested. The shed was proposed to store tools and other equipment to clean up the park.

“A few people said it was kind of a mess down there,” Fisher said. “We went down there and looked at it was a mess.”

Former Village Council member Paul Cousins came back with a proposal from The Dexter Ringers they would build the shed, Fisher said. Now that small shed has morphed into a much larger structure that has caused the city to incur an untold cost.

“I don’t know how that happened,” Fisher said. “The shelter is huge on a small piece of property. There is a way to do this without vacating the property.”

Besides the disagreement over the pavilion, another council member said there was another issue the Parks and Recreation Committee discussed and that concerned the portable toilet at the park.

“There’s this big ugly green thing out in the middle of nowhere,” Julie Knight said. “And they would like to see some kind of fencing around it like we have at Monument Park.”

While Fisher is opposed to giving up any city land, the city is not yielding ownership to anyone. The vacating really makes the park larger and puts in compliance in regard to zoning and setbacks.

Keough said the fencing could be added to the resolution when council decides on the vacation.

Council approved the postponement unanimously.

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