By Megan Kelley
Lake Orion’s Downtown Development Authority board voted last week on how to move forward regarding the two lots purchased on Slater street.
The DDA board approved the purchase of 52 and 104 Slater Street in May of this year with plans to demolish the existing homes to create a parking lot. This new parking lot would provide room for 42 parking spaces and would likely be designated parking for downtown employees.
The lots were purchased from the Lake Orion Methodist Church for $275,000.
During their Aug. 13 meeting, the DDA board heard from John Bry of Main Street of Oakland County (MSOC) who discussed the possibility of historically preserving the two lots. During this meeting, the board voted to allow MSOC to present alternative options for the lot that would also include parking at their Sept. 10 meeting.
MSOC members Joe Frost, Ron Campbell and Annaka Norris attended last week’s meeting to provide their findings and ideas for how the board could potentially move forward with the two lots.
The two properties dated back to the late 1800’s under the ownership of the Emmons family, were sold to a merchant and blacksmith respectively and from there the lots were again sold and the homes likely built around 1916, Frost explained.
“What makes something historic is either: it’s associated with a famous person, engineering/architectural significance, there could be archeology on the site — we don’t have any of that here,” said Campbell. “Conclusively, I think we all agree there’s nothing significant individually on these houses. But collectively they do represent a lot of heritage here.”
Campbell presented the board with several options for how to develop the two lots.
Option one: 22 spaces, which would include one barrier free with the estimated cost somewhere between $240,000 and $330,00.
Option two: 26 spaces, which would include two barrier free with an estimated cost between $235,000 and $270,000.
Due to current zoning requirements, the most amount of parking spaces allowed would be 26. However, an appeal could be made to the Board of Zoning and Appeals in order to create the 42 spaces previously proposed, said DDA Director Molly LaLone.
Option three (concept 1A): this would include keeping two of the current three buildings. The homes would then be renovated to include a library branch, coffee house and a DDA office. This concept would allow for 14 spaces with on street parking included.
Option four (concept 1B): this would involve keeping all three buildings with a similar set up to concept 1A. However this would limit the spaces to 11 including on street parking.
During consent agenda, Village Council President Ken Van Portfliet motioned to continue with the previously planned and approved demolition of the two lots.
Board secretary Kristin Horvath took the opportunity to provide the board with additional information regarding the home south of the two properties.
“(She) was very interested in having someone speak to her about including her home in the sale of all of this,” Horvath said. “She has lived there for a long time. Her husband, I believe was the original fire chief, or at some point, and she’s just older and can’t keep up with the home anymore and would be interested in a fair price to sell the home. I bring that up now because I don’t want to get into the point where we do all of the planning and all of these things and spend all of the money and go ‘oh we could have bought that house too and done it all at once’…so I’m bringing that up right now, from the beginning that that’s another possibility where we can get even more spaces and get it all done at once.”
With this information the board began to hypothesize that an easement could be made behind the fire station, which would prevent pedestrians from crossing in front of the fire station, something Fire Chief Robert Duke has previously raised concern about.
Van Portfliet’s motion passed with the understanding that the owner of the property south of 52 and 104 Slater would be spoken to about the purchase of her home.