The Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy, Washtenaw County’s natural areas preservation program, and the city of Ann Arbor greenbelt program have partnered in a deal to preserve 100.33 acres of land that will become part of the Superior Greenway, a corridor of more than 2,000 acres of protected land between Ann Arbor and Detroit. The property is located in Superior Township along the east side of Prospect Road, south of Cherry Hill Road. [.pdf of map showing property location]
The property becomes part of 1,237 acres of contiguous protected land, including 710 acres that are open to the public. It includes a section of Fowler Creek (a tributary of the Rouge River) and a woodlot that’s part of a larger wooded area extending into both the county’s Meyer Preserve and SMLC’s Conservancy Farm.
According to a press release issued on Friday, April 13, SMLC bought the property from Frank Pellerito through his business, Lakeside Oakland Development LLC. In addition, Washtenaw County has acquired a conservation easement on the land. The strategy ensures that if SMLC is dissolved, the property would be transferred to Washtenaw County and the conservation easement would be transferred to the city of Ann Arbor or another conservation entity. The deal also accounts for the possibility that if the county at some point is no longer authorized to hold conservation easements, the easement would be vested in another land conservation entity.
Financial details were not included in the press release. At its December 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission approved the purchase of a $355,464 conservation easement on the property, contingent on SMLC’s fee simple purchase of the land, which was appraised at $691,180 – or $7,000 per acre. At its Jan. 9, 2012 meeting, Ann Arbor city council had authorized up to $172,858 for the deal.
Jack Smiley, founder and former executive director of the SMLC, attended the November 2011 meeting of the Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission to talk about the deal, though at the time the location of the property was not disclosed. In an email sent to The Chronicle on Friday, Smiley said he first contacted Pellerito in 2005, and since then it has been SMLC’s top acquisition priority.
At the greenbelt advisory commission’s most recent meeting on April 5, Ginny Trocchio told commissioners that she expected several deals to close over the next month on property within the Ann Arbor greenbelt, totaling about 300 acres. This is one of those deals.