Troy voters defeat amendment for use of city sites

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published November 8, 2017

Voters said no Nov. 7 to an amendment to the Troy city charter that would  have put to a vote of the people any agreement for the transfer, sale, lease or use for more than 90 days of more than 2 acres of public land.

According to unofficial results, 57.1 percent, or 9,615 voters, said no to the citizen-initiated charter amendment, while 42.9 percent, or 7,225 voters, were in favor of amending the city charter.  

Last year, the city hired Gibbs Planning Group President Robert Gibbs for  $200,000 to present options to redevelop the 127-acre Civic Center at Interstate 75 and Big Beaver Road and look at mixed uses on the site. After getting feedback at a community forum last summer, Gibbs developed the Troy Town Center master plan draft.

The plan proposes 180,000 square feet of retail development, including a 40,000-square-foot “high-quality market,” restaurants and up to 1,000 homes — a mix of apartments, condominiums and townhomes — and a 300-room hotel.

The plan keeps all public buildings on the site, but moves the Troy Family Aquatic Center and the city’s tennis courts to different spots within the development. It proposes a possible addition to the library, and a parking deck to serve City Hall and the library.

This summer, the Troy City Council put the requests for proposals from developers on hold, pending the outcome of the election.

Frank Howrylak, with former Mayor Jeanne Stine, formed the Save the Troy Civic Center group and spearheaded the petition drive with the intent to amend the charter so registered voters could vote yes or no on a proposed Troy Civic Center urban plan.

Howrylak said the group has no further plans going forward, and he had no further comment on the election results.

City Council members said the ballot language would have affected agreements and contracts with a number of city-owned facilities and other properties, including Beaumont Hospital, Troy; the Camp Ticonderoga restaurant; and St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church, as well as youth sports leagues, such as the Troy Baseball Boosters and the Troy Cowboys.

The city has agreements with the Troy Nature Society for the use and management of the city-owned Stage Nature Center, with the Troy Historical Society for the Troy Historic Village, with the Troy Racquetball Club for the use and management of the tennis courts on the Troy Civic Center grounds, with Billy Casper Golf for the Sylvan Glen and Sanctuary Lake golf courses, and with the 52-4 District Court through a lease with Oakland County.

“I’m very happy for the city,” said Mayor Dane Slater. “I think it was a great example of the city coming together, united for a good cause. It shows what a great city we have when people can put their differences aside and come together for the right reason. Now it’s time to move forward.”

Troy City Clerk Aileen Dickson said that turnout was about 29 percent, noting that 25 percent turnout is average for local elections.

“We used new (voting) machines for the first time,” said Dickson. “Everything went really well.”  

Dickson said there were lines in a few of the precincts between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., but otherwise it was steady all day, with no problems at any of the precincts.