| 3 min read | by Lonnie Huhman, firstname.lastname@example.org |
Scio Township approved the sale of a plot of land on Marshall Road that will add to the operations of the Nature and Nurture farm.
By a 5-2 vote, the Scio Township Board approved the sale of eight acres of the former Mersereau property to Arthur and Marjorie Levine for $24,000.
The agreement was approved with the understanding a conservation easement will be placed on the property at the time of sale and with the stipulation that farm activities would be consistent with GAAMPs, Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices.
Board trustee Kathleen Knol and township clerk Jessica Flintoft were the no votes.
The former Mersereau property is a 34-acre property that sits north of Marshall Road and east of Baker Road and is adjacent to other preserved properties.
According to the township, the former Mersereau property was acquired in May 2019 with the assistance of the Washtenaw County NATAC program. The county contributed 50 percent of the cost for 25 acres. The remaining southern eight acres of the purchase along Marshall Road was acquired using only township funds to allow its future sale.
Township officials said the county was aware of this at the time of purchase.
“The portion to be sold is old farmland with an old pole barn previously used for horses,” according to the township. “The pole barn has no value to the township on preserved land and would likely need to be removed if the land was to be used as a preserve.”
In its background on the sale, the township meeting packet said, “Two of the three adjacent landowners expressed interest in the purchase of these eight acres. Both offered the same price based on the usual $3000/acre for protected farmland in the township. The LPC (land Preservation Commission) reviewed both offers after a presentation on February 20 from each of the interested neighbors. The LPC recommended sale of this 8-acre parcel to Arthur and Marjorie Levine at the February 25 BOT meeting. A conservation easement was to be placed on the new parcel at the time of sale.”
The township said the party who did not win the LPC recommendation attended the township board meeting and objected to the sale as did some members of the public.
“Concern was expressed about potential use of the land for cattle,” according to the township. “The motion was tabled at the February meeting. Subsequent to this meeting, additional letters from pubic were received, some in support of the sale to the Levines and some against it. Additional proposals were made by the other party, including an increased sale price, not selling and demolishing the barn, and splitting the eight acres between the two interested parties.”
According to the LPC recommendation, the other proposal came from Steven and Johanna Erps, who live adjacent to the property in question. The Erps said they wanted to buy the eight acres and use it to plant pollinator-friendly species and instill a type of beehive in the barn so bees could use it during the winter months.
It was noted their proposal was not at this time a commercial one.
During public comment at the Feb. 25 township board meeting, Steven Erps said they were protesting the sale of the land to Nature and Nurture because it might involve a commercial livestock operation. He said this part of the plan has been talked about in previous presentations. He said he was concerned about the negative impact this might have on such things as neighboring water wells from run-off and property values.
The offer from the Levines, who own property adjacent to the land, would have them just be the property owner, but the actual use of the land would be done by their son, Mike Levine, who is co-owner/operator of Nature and Nurture LLC, who would farm the property with his Nature and Nurture partner Erica Kempter.
Nature and Nurture is also located near the land that was sold. The farm has said being a cattle operation is not in the plans and they will follow all regulations required of them.
According to its website, Nature and Nurture farm is described as a small, locally owned organic gardening business.