Nearly 40 years after government officials agreed to annex the Layher Farm from Pittsfield Township in to the City of Saline, the wheels are in motion again.
Officials representing the Layher family and Grand Sakwa LLC pitched their annexation plan to the Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees during a work meeting Wednesday night. The Layher family has been farming the land north of the City of Saline for decades. In 1981, the township and city agreed to a resolution that would see the property, dissected by Maple Road, eventually annexed to the city. In fact, some of the Layher farm has already been annexed to the city for the expansion of Liebherr Aerospace.
The Layhers would like to sell the remaining 72 acres of their property to Grand Sakwa “so they can make a little money and enjoy their retirement,” according to lawyer Scott Munzel, who addressed the township board Wednesday.
Munzel said Grand Sakwa would like to develop single-family housing consistent with the density of surrounding developments. The development would incorporate water features and open space.
Munzel said the annexation could be an easy process since the Layhers own the entire parcel and there are no residents living on the property. Munzel said the Layhers will submit an annexation request to both the city and township as early as February.
“We’d like to move the process along because it will take some time to go through the city process with the site plan,” he said.
There’s another issue that the Layhers will put before the township board. The Layher family has a farmland agreement with the state of Michigan that provides an income tax benefit to the property owner. The deal with the state expires in 2022. The state allows early termination of the deal for various reasons - but the local government must consent.
Pittsfield Township Treasurer Patricia Scribner asked why the township would want to give the land to the city.
John Layher said the soils on the farm are not conducive to a septic field. Officials from Grand Sakwa pointed out that Pittsfield utilities stop well short of the development. The township’s “2020 vision” map also shows no plans to extend the utilities. Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal, who said it was too early in the process to comment on the proposal, confirmed the township has no current plans to service the property with water and sewer.
Grand Sakwa officials told the board the City of Saline has included the property as part of its long-range planning. When city officials have spoken of their utilities’ build-out capacity, they have included the potential residential development on the Layher property. Inclusion of the Layher property is one reason why the city declined a request to extend water and sewer to the proposed Andelina Farms development west of the city in Saline Township.
Saline Mayor Pro-Tem Linda Terhaar took notes during the presentation.
Strangely, neither the city or township have designated zoning for the property in their master plans.
Layher told the township board his nephew farms corn, wheat and soybeans on the property.