Caro Mayor Joe Greene, standing, addresses the Indianfields Township Board of Trustees on Monday night, saying "it's a shame" city and township leaders haven't worked out a deal to bring a $2 million, 40-bed assisted-living facility to land along M-81 currently in the township. (Photos by Tom Gilchrist)

Caro Mayor Joe Greene, standing, addresses the Indianfields Township Board of Trustees on Monday night, saying "it's a shame" city and township leaders haven't worked out a deal to bring a $2 million, 40-bed assisted-living facility to land along M-81 currently in the township. (Photos by Tom Gilchrist)

Another Loss for Caro? Mayor confronts Indianfields board

Caro Mayor Joe Greene, standing, addresses the Indianfields Township Board of Trustees on Monday night, saying "it's a shame" city and township leaders haven't worked out a deal to bring a $2 million, 40-bed assisted-living facility to land along M-81 currently in the township. (Photos by Tom Gilchrist)
Caro Mayor Joe Greene, standing, addresses the Indianfields Township Board of Trustees on Monday night, saying “it’s a shame” city and township leaders haven’t worked out a deal to bring a $2 million, 40-bed assisted-living facility to land along M-81 currently in the township. (Photos by Tom Gilchrist)

Caro Mayor Joe Greene told the Indianfields Township Board of Trustees on Monday that township and city leaders dropped the ball on a proposed $2 million assisted living facility — two months after Greene accused Caro leaders of running a $1.2 million proposed rum microdistillery/restaurant out of town. “This is a sad moment for the township and the city,” Greene told township board members at their regular meeting. “Another development that’s not gonna happen. I think Caro lost another one, for 20 jobs and $2 million roughly.”
After hearing Greene lament the situation, though, township board members said they’d like to join Greene in talks with the developer to try to bring the facility to the area. Greene said the developer had hoped to place the 40-bed assisted-living facility along M-81 between Maple Grove Veterinary Clinic and Carter Lumber, on land currently in Indianfields Township.
“So we really need to get that going again,” said Christi Smith, elected in November as a new Indianfields Township trustee and addressing Greene.
“Yes we do,” added Indianfields Supervisor Ray Rendon.
Greene said “the township doesn’t want to cooperate with annexation” of the land into the city of Caro. He said a representative of the developer has called him, wanting to talk about where the developer could build the facility and asking if the city could find another piece of land.
“I figure it’s a shame,” Greene said.
Smith, however, asked Greene why the township needs to give the site of the proposed development to the city.
Greene said the project “needs public water, and the city has water and we don’t sell water outside of the city limits.”
“So why don’t you?” asked Ron Woloshen, Indianfields Township trustee.
“Good question — if that’s the only thing holding it up,” noted Smith.
Woloshen told Greene that “This could very easily be looked at as you holding it up by refusing to provide water.”
Greene explained the city’s refusal to provide water by saying “It’s the ordinance that we have, that’s in place.”
Former Indianfields Township Clerk William Campbell told The Advertiser on Tuesday that when the developer proposed the assisted-living facility earlier this year, public health authorities wouldn’t let the developer install private wells because of a problem with arsenic in well water in the Caro area. That required the developer to buy water from the city, Campbell said, though he maintains Caro city leaders required the land be annexed into the city before the city would provide the water.
Campbell said several properties that aren’t in Caro city limits — such as Indianfields Township Cemetery and the Caro Golf Club – receive water from the city.
“This whole project would move forward if the city would let the developer simply purchase water from the city water system,” Campbell said.
Campbell told the township board on Monday that developers “don’t want to be annexed into the city because they don’t want to pay city taxes.”
Rendon told Greene that Indianfields Township leaders tried hard to make the assisted-living facility a reality, noting “that a 40-bed unit is a lot of jobs.”
“I worked on this myself, since the latter part of August, pushing this thing, trying to get it approved through (Caro city) council,” Rendon said. “We even have attorney fees dating back that far, where attorneys worked with the city attorneys to try to get this pushed through. We didn’t hold it up.”
Greene, however, then had some questions for Indianfields board members.
“You mean when you’re asking for taxes on it for the next 25 years — that’s not holding it up?” Greene asked the township board.
“That you want to collect your millage on it — when it (becomes) a city property and you still want to get your millage on it for 25 years? You mean that’s not holding it up? The township, any time you want to put in a couple water wells, put up a water tower, put up an arsenic (treatment) plant, you’re welcome to do that anytime.”
“We put quite a little bit of money in attorney fees to try and get that going,” Woloshen told Greene.
“We have, too. The city did, too,” Greene replied.
Greene said he didn’t know the names of those wanting to develop the assisted-living facility. But he said a representative of the developer contacted him in recent days, requesting a meeting.
When asked by The Advertiser if the project remains alive, Greene said “I don’t know — I don’t think it’s dead because they still want to talk.”
Rendon told Greene that township officials “would like to be involved” in any meetings with developers.
“Even if the (facility) wasn’t in the township, it’s still going to benefit the community,” Rendon said.
“Exactly,” added Smith. “They might buy a house in the township. I’d say we push forward on that.”
Smith asked Greene if he would welcome a township official at the upcoming meeting with the developer.
“At the first meeting, probably not,” Greene said. “I want to see what he has to say. I have no idea what went on before.”
Greene said the city’s most recent offer to Indianfields Township was to let the township keep collecting property taxes on the assisted-living facility — if it is annexed into the city — for 10 years after the annexation.
Greene said that as a Caro city councilman, he wasn’t aware of negotiations to bring the assisted-living facility to the Caro area. Voters elected Greene — a write-in candidate — as mayor on Nov. 8, ousting Richard Pouliot.
“I’m hearing some of this stuff now,” Greene said on Monday, referring to prior negotiations to land the facility.
When asked why he addressed the Indianfields Township board on Monday, Greene said “I want to make sure everybody knows something’s going on — a couple of (Indianfields Township board members) didn’t know, and I want to make sure everybody does.”
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com

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