Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority
Commonwealth was hired by the Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority to purchase an additional 27-foot right of way along the statutory right of way of Belleville Road to create a 60-foot right of way. This would allow Van Buren Township to connect sidewalks from Ecorse Road to the commercial business south of Tyler Road. This action would enhance the area and provide a safe path for non-motorized activity along Belleville Road.
A secondary goal included owning the width of right of way needed to expand the existing road. This could include or advance any road expansion projects in the SEMCOG Transportation Improvement Program list. This secondary goal also may give Van Buren Township the ability to apply for a soft match of any costs that could be the responsibility of Van Buren Township if the road is expanded in the future. This is based on the value of vacant land provided to the road agency (Wayne County) for required right of way.
In acquiring the twenty-nine properties required in the project limits for Van Buren Township DDA, numerous right of way services have been completed or are still in progress. These services include right of way planning, title review, valuation, appraisal coordination and appraisal review, negotiation, acquisition, and relocation if required. A change of scope during the project included procurement of mortgage releases, reviews of ALTA Surveys, appraisal coordination, closings, and recording of the documents in the Wayne County Register of Deeds Office.
Commonwealth faced some challenges in the course of the project. As the power of eminent domain was not being used in this project, some property owners were not eager to negotiate. Also, a portion of the already acquired right of way had a new sidewalk constructed on it which had been constructed incorrectly and will be rebuilt by the contractor. Many property owners used this failed construction as example of what could go wrong if they agreed to the sidewalk phase of the project.
Commonwealth overcame these challenges by utilizing skilled negotiators, keeping the project staff well informed and supplied with the information necessary to complete the project, strategizing and creating procedures prior to meeting with property owners, and measuring and reporting progress of the project work executed by Commonwealth. Commonwealth successfully made the area better by creating a safe path for a sidewalk for non-motorized activity and Commonwealth successfully purchased the width of the right of way for the existing street to have room to expand.