Plans to install a streetscape along Farmington Road in downtown Farmington may come to life in 2022.
The City of Farmington and Downtown Development Authority (DDA) have agreed to a 50/50 cost split for the $4 million project. It would add bump-out parking, a traffic-calming island, and more foliage to a three-lane stretch between Grand River and Orchard Street.
DDA Director Kate Knight said the city learned that its $1 million TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) grant application has been approved, contingent upon other agency reviews. That includes the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO), which has been shut down during the pandemic.
Knight said plans have been altered based on recommendations of a historic preservation consultant, which is now required for all Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) projects. Grand River is under MDOT jurisdiction; Farmington Road is under the Road Commission for Oakland County’s control.
Among the changes are a reduction in trees on the Grand River end, to ensure visibility of historic buildings on the east and west sides of the road. Also, pavers planned for a portion of the widened sidewalks will be swapped for concrete.
Temporary easement negotiations
In addition to reviews, Knight said, temporary construction easement discussions with two corporate property holders – Chase Bank and CVS – have stalled. Each property has two driveways on Farmington Road; the streetscape plan calls for closing one at each location.
City attorney Beth Saarela said the situation is not uncommon, and “the next step is to pay them the value of the temporary easement.” The fee for using property during construction, calculated by working with Oakland County Equalization, amounts to $2,000 for each property.
If the businesses refuse to accept that offer, Saarela added, the eminent domain process would be more expensive. However, a fight over the value of the easement would not delay the project.
“Once we have to file a lawsuit to use eminent domain, assuming they can’t make a credible argument… it moves pretty quickly for the condemning authority to get control of the property and then you fight over the payment for the next year,” city attorney Tom Schultz said. “The schedule you’re talking about fits into that.”
A motion authorizing up to $10,000 for costs related to appraisals and title work included authorizing “good faith offer” letters to both property owners.
If all goes well, approvals, easement agreements, and finalized plans would be completed in October of 2021, with 5-6 months of construction beginning April of 2022.
“Inch by inch, step by step, we’re getting closer to this project,” mayor Sara Bowman said.
View supporting documents and video for this electronic meeting here: farmgov.com/City-Services/Government/Agendas-and-Minutes/City-Council/2020.aspx