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Dog park site approved by Planning Commission

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published April 20, 2016

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Several Macomb Township residents have voiced their concerns about a proposed dog park that would be located on the south side of 21 Mile Road and a half-mile west of Romeo Plank, behind Macomb Township Fire Station No. 2.

Discussions for the park have been ongoing for several years, but due to the recent construction of a bypass lane on 21 Mile Road near the entrance of where the park would be, plans have heated up with construction scheduled to begin  on the park this summer.

The park was the highlight of a township Planning Commission meeting April 5, when commission members discussed whether or not to grant site plan approval for the park.

Several residents who live on nearby Fox Run Drive and would be affected by the park raised their concerns about the project.

“Our biggest concerns are privacy, noise, odor, and what about our property values? We’re not very happy about that either,” said resident Joanne Gough, who presented Parks and Recreation Director Sal DiCaro with a petition with 80 signatures of residents who disapprove of the park.

DiCaro said the park would have a green belt of 84 feet from the park’s fence line to nearby property lines.

The park is estimated to be 1.37 acres in size and would feature separate areas for small dogs and big dogs.

Wayne Oehmke, who lives on 21 Mile Road near the fire station, said the park is another example of growth taking away from privacy in the township.

“The dog park is just another thing that takes away from those things that are so hard to find in our township: open space, privacy and quality of life,” Oehmke said. “We have crime and huge traffic concerns. One has to take their own life into their hands to get onto 21 Mile, and there’s virtually no privacy, which one used to take for granted.”

A key concern for Oehmke, the president of the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber and Industry of Commerce, is noise remedies.

“If you contact your vet and ask them, a dog will bark more on a leash trying to get to other dogs,” DiCaro said in response to Oehmke’s question. “You’re supposed to unleash your dog when you get into the dog park. Comparing it to other communities, no one has problems with those kind of things. I can understand the concerns of the neighbors adjacent to it, but if you contact Grosse Pointe, those same concerns were presented and they’re not a concern anymore.”

To bring a dog into the park, a resident would have to ensure that their dog is up to date on all vaccinations in order to receive a key to enter the park’s gates, DiCaro added. As it relates to odor, DiCaro said bags would be available for residents to use in the park, and maintenance staff would also clean the grounds.

The park would be open from 8 a.m. to dusk between April and November.

Chris Grzywna, a resident on Fox Run, asked how the location of the park was selected.

“That’s about the best parcel we own where there’s nothing else we could do with it, but as a couple of people have said, we get plenty of complaints that everything is out here (in the northern half of the township), and they want stuff on the south side of the township. We felt this would be a good remedy for that situation,” DiCaro said. “There are 92,000 people who live in this township, and I get plenty of phone calls who are for it.”

Other residents raised concerns about the park flooding, as well as wildlife such as foxes and coyotes causing a danger to dogs.

Kyle Langlois, a resident who lives in a neighborhood just north of Dakota High School, spoke in support of the park.

“This is an opportunity to spread parkland throughout the city and save congestion at our couple of parks, which are dynamite parks,” Langlois said. “It sounds like there are some reasonable accommodations which are willing to be made.”

A motion to approve the park’s site plan was approved unanimously by the Planning Commission. Approval is still required from the Macomb Township Board of Trustees before construction may formally begin.

“I knew there was going to be some opposition there,” DiCaro said. “We feel very confident that over time, they’ll be fine. If you call any of the other communities, they had some of the exact same fears, and it’s not going to be a huge issue — it really isn’t. I think the people who bring their dogs to a dog park are very conscientious of the other patrons who are there.”

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