by David Gordon

Feb. 15, 2019

The Northfield Township Board of Trustees (BoT) last night approved a $2,000 contribution to a local land preservation deal in an effort to get A2 City Council approval of the Greenbelt-recommended property.

In January, the Council rejected the Greenbelt recommendation to preserve the 75-acre Lepkowski farm at 7084 Spencer Road.

It’s the first time the Council has rejected a recommendation since the Greenbelt millage was approved by Ann Arbor voters in 2003.

See mlive story here:

MLive: Ann Arbor council rejects 75-acre greenbelt purchase in 7-4 vote - Ryan Stanton, Jan. 11, 2019

Council members who voted against the project noted that Northfield Township had not made a contribution and that A2 was shouldering 54% of the $478,867 purchase of development rights. (54%=$258,588)

Responding to lobbying efforts from residents throughout the county, including Northfield Neighbors and some BoT members, the Council revisited its decision and postponed final action until its next meeting on February 19th.

Northfield Treasurer Lenore Zelenock said “the Board has made a good faith effort to preserve an active farm in Northfield township at a minimal cost and get a return on our federal tax dollars.”

Zelenock, Clerk Kathy Manley, Supervisor Marlene Chockley and Trustee Janet Chick voted in favor of the $2k expense.

Trustees Wayne Dockett and Jacki Otto voted against.

This is the first time the BoT has approved spending tax dollars to support a farm preservation property.

“Many residents have said preservation is important to them” said Zelenock. “The board is acting on the residents input, at a minimal cost and for a great public value,” she added.

Last week Washtenaw County agreed to contribute $10,000 with the hopes it will sway the Council.

Thaddeus and Margaret Lepkowski and their daughter Michele and son-in-law Dale Woolford, raise horses and cattle on the land.

The Woolfords returned to Michigan from N. Carolina with their herd late last year expecting that the Greenbelt money would enable them to continue farming.

They plan to sell their beef at local Farmers Markets.

MLive photos of the Lepkowski farm, the Woolfords, and their cattle here - Jacob Hamilton, Jan. 23, 2019

Aerial photos and maps showing Ann Arbor greenbelt overlain on adjacent Townships, and the farm location.

We will follow up on this unfolding story after the A2 Council meeting Feb. 19.

Other than Treasurer Zelenock, no Board member accepted our invitation to comment.



Map of the Ann Arbor Greenbelt in pdf form.  The map shows Greenbelt boundaries, properties, and other properties protected by conservation easements.  That this is in a native pdf form means you can zoom in.  The last planning commission meeting discussed this issue, specifically with regard to our Planner's use of poor quality jpgs to document his work.

Ann Arbor Greenbelt Home page.

Click to download the Greenbelt 2018 Annual Report