Township supervisor touts recent successes

By: Jeremy Selweski | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 17, 2015

 Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn gives her annual State of the Township address at Sycamore Hills Golf Club on Feb. 13.

Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn gives her annual State of the Township address at Sycamore Hills Golf Club on Feb. 13.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Growth and progress were the themes of the day at Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn’s third State of the Township address on Feb. 13.

Dunn delivered her 25-minute speech to a crowd of elected officials, township staff, business owners and community leaders at Sycamore Hills Golf Club during an event hosted by the Macomb County Chamber. “Stuff happens” was the recurring phrase as Dunn highlighted many of the good things that have taken place in her community over the last 12 months.

The supervisor also spent some time addressing the reasons why so many residents continue to move to Macomb Township, which has seen its population nearly quadruple since 1990. She pointed to the affordable housing market and all the new homes springing up across its 36 square miles. As evidence, she cited the fact that of the 1,808 total residential building permits filed in Macomb County in 2014, 455 of them came from Macomb Township.

“So, 25 percent of the stuff happening in the county is happening right here,” Dunn said proudly.

Dunn also cited a study conducted by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) stating that roughly one-third of all township residents also work in the township. Among Macomb County communities, this puts Macomb Township second only to St. Clair Shores in that particular category.

“People here don’t have to drive very far to work,” Dunn said. “When people work here, they like it so much that they come and buy a house here.

“Talk about ‘Make Macomb Your Home,’” she continued, referencing Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel’s signature initiative. “That’s really our slogan, you know.”

In addition, the supervisor mentioned Macomb Township’s low tax rate, numerous local shopping options, four reputable public school districts, strong and reliable Fire Department, and close proximity to good medical facilities as reasons why so many people have purchased homes in her community.

For much of her speech, Dunn tackled 2014 chronologically, first discussing the tremendously cold and snowy winter season, which broke metro Detroit’s 124-year-old snowfall record with 94.9 inches accumulated. She then moved forward to March, when she and several of her staff members first met with representatives from Emagine Entertainment.

“The owner, Mr. Paul Glantz, asked that we not tell anyone that he was negotiating with the Kroger company to purchase the vacated grocery store at 23 Mile and Hayes (roads),” Dunn recalled. “Do you have any idea how hard that was? One of the most important projects to possibly locate in Macomb Township, and I had to keep quiet.”

In May, Dunn attended Utica Community Schools’ sixth-grade Career Day event and was extremely impressed with the students that she met.

“I’m afraid that too much publicity is given to the negative actions of young people, when it should be focused on the positive,” she said. “The future is in good hands if what I saw that day comes to reality.”

June saw the third annual Run the Plank 5k run and fundraiser return to the township, which brought in about $50,000 for several local charities. Then, on July 18, the Macomb Township Recreation Center celebrated its 10th anniversary with a massive community party that served as the pinnacle of the summer, Dunn said.

In August, the Macomb Township Historical Commission played an old-time baseball game at Macomb Corners Park against a team of county officials. August also saw the once-in-a-lifetime rainstorm that flooded much of metro Detroit and damaged many residents’ homes and vehicles. Dunn’s community, however, was only mildly inconvenienced.

“Thankfully,” she said, “Macomb Township did not get hit like some of our neighbors did.”

In September, officials from Macomb and Shelby townships met to discuss the ongoing construction work along 24 Mile Road from Romeo Plank to Dequindre roads. The work is part of a project by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to install a new water main underneath the road. As Dunn noted, Macomb Township officials were offered a deal that would  give them two miles of brand-new road for less than $100,000.

“Stuff happens, and sometimes it’s too good to be true,” she said. “I’m still pinching myself to see if I’m dreaming.”

Looking forward, Dunn pointed out that there is more road construction in store for 2015. In addition to the work on 24 Mile, there are projects scheduled along Hayes, 21 Mile, Card and Luchtman roads, along with North Avenue. The township will also be adding more bypass lanes to its roads to reduce traffic during peak hours and beginning its 10-year sidewalk improvement program, which will extend existing public sidewalks in order to better connect residents to local schools, parks, churches and business centers.

But again, Dunn circled back to the new Emagine Macomb theater, which just opened on Dec. 19. She referred to the upscale, nine-auditorium, 1,070-seat facility as the highlight of 2014, which she called “a year that we’re all proud of.”

“Remember when I had to keep a secret for so long about the Emagine theater coming in?” she asked. “It was worth it. The best stuff that happened in 2014 was the opening of this theater in our community. … Good stuff happens when all parties work together for a common goal. The results are fantastic, and I am so proud to have been a small part in providing Macomb Township with such a wonderful entertainment venue.”

Dunn then brought up Paul Glantz, co-founder and chairman of Emagine Entertainment, to address the audience. Glantz thanked township officials for helping his company realize the ambitious project of converting a grocery store into a movie theater in less than four months. The result was Emagine’s seventh location and first in Macomb County.

“I can tell you, unequivocally, that working with Macomb County and working, in particular, with Macomb Township was by far the most gratifying and business-friendly experience that we’ve enjoyed in the history of our company,” he said. “It is truly a testament to the elected officials and to the professional staff that we were welcomed, first and foremost.”

As part of Emagine Macomb’s grand opening party in December, the company held a fundraiser in which it donated $5,000 each to Variety: The Children’s Charity and Friends of Macomb Township: A Community Foundation.

“We’re absolutely honored to be in this community,” Glantz said. “We feel very strongly that when you have the privilege of doing business in a community, it’s not simply about doing business. It’s also about embracing the community and being a contributing member of society. … We look forward to holding other fundraisers and other events.”

Hackel, a Macomb Township resident since 2002, said that he has already been to Emagine Macomb “many times,” adding that he planned to go there again that evening to see “50 Shades of Grey” with his wife for Valentine’s Day.

He also took time to praise Macomb Township for all the amenities that it provides to residents. Specifically, he applauded the quick response time of its emergency services — both the Fire Department and the local substation of the County Sheriff’s Office — and the myriad programs offered by the Recreation Center, whose staff he called “the cream of the crop.”

“There isn’t a better parks and rec program in this county, and I would dare say the state of Michigan, than what we have here in Macomb Township,” the executive said.

Later, Hackel commented on the development that Macomb Township has seen in recent years, something that he expects to continue for the foreseeable future. He noted that this same growth pattern — a rural community gradually becoming suburbanized over time — also happened to inner-ring Macomb County cities like Warren and Sterling Heights decades ago.

“Moving north has been a natural migration for a lot of people in Macomb County,” Hackel said. “Out on the northern end of the county, there’s that newness to it, where Warren once was. … Now you’re still seeing that migration taking place, and it’s happening north of Hall Road. A lot of these communities are starting to create themselves based on a new methodology, a new way of thinking, and Macomb Township is certainly one of those.”