Thursday, October 7, 2021

Council members OK Romulus Trade Center project

Members of the Romulus City Council approved the plan for the171-acre multi-million dollar Romulus Trade Center by a 6-1 vote last week.

Councilwoman Virginia Williams cast the lone vote and repeatedly voiced her opposition and objections to the project. Williams began her criticisms of the Trade Center, expected to bring 1,180 jobs to the city and $55 million in real property tax revenue to the school district, during a motion to rezone the property to conform to the needs of the developer, NorthPoint Development.

Williams questioned the procedures of the rezoning and the unanimous recommendation of the city property disposition committee to sell two parcels of land owned by the city to the developer.  She also said she was opposed to the plan for a Royal Farms facility in the project. 

“To say it is a restaurant is an insult,” she said. “Residents have been crying for too long. What we are getting is seven industrial buildings. Residents want to have a place to buy shoes or socks.”

Williams went on to criticize the conduct of the previous council members who approved the Amazon facility in the city and referred to “the destruction Amazon has caused.”

She was critical of the negotiated plan for the Romulus Trade Center and said that the city representatives should have “stayed at the table until we got something the residents wanted.”

She said that residents are not happy with the proposed development. “My problem is hearing residents complain about trucks, trucks, trucks,” she said. “We need a grocery store, someplace to go to eat. 

“I don't agree with my colleagues. I don't care what they think,” she said. “We should consider our vote and how it affects residents,” she said.

Councilman William Wadsworth said that he agreed that the city needs a grocery store, “but we have a motion on the floor and we should move forward.”

Following the vote approving the project, Councilwoman Eva Webb said that she wanted to clarity some statements.

“Ecorse Road doesn't belong to Romulus. That is a county road. We are in negotiations with Wayne County,” Webb said in response to Williams criticisms of the two-lane rather than four-lane roadways in the city.

“There is nothing over there on Vining Road. We are the only council who has gotten to the point where we almost get something over there,” Webb said.

Webb also responded to Williams' assertions about the need for retail at the Trade Center noting that the outskirts of the project are ready to be leased for retail stores.

“We have to put something there to get others to come here,” she said.

“As for the restaurant, it is not a Speedway type. We all have a choice where we get gas and where we want to eat,” she said. 

“I wish everybody had seen this presentation. If we don't get something over there, there never will be development,” Webb said.

NorthPoint has agreed to install 1,700 trees and 5,700 shrubs and decorative grasses at the site and has agreed to install multiple sidewalks inside and at the entire perimeter of the development, connecting the area to several other parts of the city. The developer also agreed to an engineering plan to limit trucks to one driveway and keep them off local roads. 

Williams also cast the only no vote at the first reading of the plan at the Sept. 13 meeting.