MAPLETON — A Peninsula Township firefighter would be that much closer to fire and medical emergencies in Old Mission Peninsula’s north end if the township builds a third fire station.
Township trustees avoided a minor hurdle in pursuing a new station when they tweaked the purchase deal Tuesday for the future station site.
They previously approved the land buy, but the land must be legally split into a separate lot before the township could build on it, township Supervisor Rob Manigold said before the meeting.
He told trustees the previous purchase agreement didn’t meet the township’s land division ordinance road frontage-to-lot depth requirements.
Jennifer Hodges, the township’s engineer, said the sellers are willing to give up another 0.35 acre to create a lot that meets the township’s land split rules. This brings the size to 2.35 acres, and nudges the price up to $42,300.
It also lets the township skip asking its Zoning Board of Appeals for an exemption, which the previous agreement would’ve required, she said.
The next step is to finalize the land split, Hodges said. The township’s own planning commission will need to approve a special land use permit to build a fire station on the property.
Documents show the site is part of the Switzer Family Trust’s 18 acres on Center Road between Swaney and Tompkins roads.
Manigold said before the meeting he’s hoping construction on the new station can start before winter. The building likely would be a 40-foot-by-50-foot pole barn with enough space for a few vehicles and a full-time firefighter.
“We’re looking forward to putting one of the full-time people out there for a quicker response for everyone,” he said.
The new station would be 5 miles north of the township’s current Station 1, and a 12-mile drive from Station 2, maps show.
Peninsula Township’s fire coverage situation is unique in that it’s surrounded by water on three sides, Manigold said prior to the meeting. Neighboring township fire departments to the north, east and west cannot respond to fires in the township without a long drive around water.
Money to buy the land will come from payments telecoms companies make to lease space on a township-owned antenna tower, Manigold said earlier. Plans for now are to use those same funds to build the new station, he said.
Township residents shouldn’t have to pay above the 2 mills they’re currently taxed to fund the township’s fire department to build or staff the station, Manigold said before the meeting.
Trustees also approved paying $4,000 to Spicer Group to assess the township’s other two stations.
Township Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff in a memo wrote the assessment will take stock of the current stations, and the contract states the company will suggest future expansions and improvements for the two buildings.
A message left for Gilstorff after the meeting Tuesday wasn’t returned.
Both decisions come amid an ongoing push by Gilstorff and township leaders to improve Peninsula’s fire department. Other moves include upgrading the department’s ambulance service to advanced life support, hiring more full- and part-time employees and buying better equipment.