Meijer confirmed this week it is looking to open its first location in Hillsdale County.
The privately owned corporation based in Grand Rapids is working to purchase a plot of land — nearly 50 acres and located in Fayette Township — on West Carleton Road, located between Frank Beck Chevrolet and Beck Road, according to Fayette Township Supervisor John Kalusniak.
Kalusniak said discussion between Meijer and the property owner has taken place over the past six months and plans are now beginning to take shape. Fayette Township approved a zoning change in township board meeting on Oct. 2, changing the property’s status from agricultural to industrial, contingent on the property’s purchase. Kalusniak said this was the first step in finalizing negotiations with Meijer.
“The next step is to see if Meijer will purchase the property,” he said in a phone interview. “Everything is contingent on that next step.”
A media representative from Meijer confirmed the potential expansion and said although there are no official plans, the company has signed a preliminary purchase agreement with the property owner.
Kalusniak said Fayette Township and the City of Hillsdale will have to reach a 425 agreement — a contract that will allow both cities to benefit from tax revenues resulting from the expanded development — because Fayette Township would be unable to provide water and sewer for the new business.
Kalusniak said residents have voiced concerns about the impending expansion, citing concerns over traffic flow, lighting, and property taxes. Fayette Township will have to review its traffic light placements in the nearby area, if the purchase is finalized, he said.
Kalusniak said he does not think small business will suffer if Meijer moves to Hillsdale County. The new company will bring competition, he said, but more so to Walmart than to local shops. “Meijer will also bring jobs to Hillsdale County,” Kalusniak said. “There will be construction jobs and store ones. We need that.”
Despite concerns, Kalusniak said overall, Meijer would be a good addition to the community.
“It would be a big improvement to the area and the county,” he said. “We’ve been trying to develop that area between Hillsdale and Jonesville for a while, so the more businesses we can get in there, the better.”