CIA Development Plan calls for $8.1 million in enhancements, public hearing set for Monday

By Meg Peters
Review Co-Editor
The public is invited to comment this Monday on a tax increment financing development plan as recommended by the newly established Orion Township Corridor Improvement Authority Board.
Township trustees could approve the plan after the public hearing Monday.
Supervisor Chris Barnett appointed the seven person board to create a development and tax increment financing plan for the Corridor Improvement Authority (CIA), which was approved by trustees earlier this year.
The CIA is a tax capture zone from Brown Road between Joslyn Rd. to S. Baldwin Rd., and Baldwin Rd. from Brown Rd. to just slightly north of Gregory Rd. It will capture half of all of the taxable value increases, or tax increment financing, of future developments within the boundaries. The other half of the increase will still be paid to the following regular taxing authorities: the township general, Oakland County, Oakland Community College, the township police, fire, library, and safety path millages, the North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA), the County Parks, and the Metro Parks.
About $8,084,000 will be captured for the CIA’s scope of projects to be spent back into improving the corridors.
“The proposed capture is for 20 years, but once the projects are complete, it will end,” Supervisor Chris Barnett said. The township expects the projects could be complete after 15 years.
The township approved the CIA in October 2015, and then the authority board, consisting of Supervisor Chris Barnett, Chairman Terry Winter, Secretary Donni Steele, Member H. Scott Bicknell, Member Dan Dewey, Member Steve Pearson, and Member Rob Zielinski, approved it shortly thereafter.
The authority board, which is governed under township bylaws, created and recommended the grand plan which set forth a scope of work and budgets for the spending of the tax captures.
The public can learn more about the plan May 18 at the public hearing beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the Orion Township Hall, 2525 Joslyn Rd.
Among the top priorities is to address the traffic congestion of Brown Rd. by widening it from three to five lanes including a center turn lane. Also, it is hoped to enhance and beautify the Baldwin Rd. corridor and to use the CIA tax financing options to attract new developments and the redevelopment of properties within the boundaries.
“The idea of it is to reinvest in the community, and in the absence of that you would not have a Menards,” CIA consultant Gary Roberts said from Strategic Communications Solutions. “It gives you a means to fund projects like Menards and other presumably new developments and give an amount that can be spent.”
Enhancements to Baldwin include creating a pedestrian and bicycle circulation route with “streetscape” enhancements along the north side of Baldwin between Joslyn and Baldwin, creating other components to increase the public’s experience in the area, and to enhance the planned pavement improvements to Baldwin Rd., according to the preliminary development plan.
The Road Commission for Oakland County would manage all new road construction.
A separate project, the construction of five roundabouts from Brown Rd. to Clarkston Rd. along Baldwin is planned for 2017, will also partially be addressed by the CIA plan. Roundabouts will be built at the Judah Rd. intersection, Gregory Rd. intersection, one between Great Lakes Athletic Club and the Redwood Waterstone condos, one at Maybee Rd., and the last one at Waldon Rd.
Although the spring 2017 project to construct five roundabouts provides topsoil, seeding and safety pathway on each side of Baldwin, no other enhancements to the streetscape are included. The CIA Board, for this reason, is recommending the comprehensive streetscape plan to elevate the stature and appearance of the project area, according to the plan. The plan includes streetscape furnishings, plants, gateway treatments, signature, lighting enhancements, ADA compliant accessible routes, and the creation of public spaces.

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