A large gambling facility with horse racing is slated to open in Plymouth Township, pending approval by local officials - despite strong resident opposition. Meanwhile, doors could open for expanded gaming if the horse racing industry gets its way with state legislators.
Plymouth Township residents have not had a say in whether a gambling facility should be allowed in their community. Northville Downs’, the gambling facility with a horse racetrack, plans to relocate operations from the City of Northville to Plymouth Township. This gambling facility would change the character of the Township and residents feel betrayed by their elected officials who are dismissing their concerns. This development is fundamentally in contrast to the Township’s master development plan.
Local residents have reason to believe this development has been in the works for some time between Northville Downs’ owners, Township representatives and others engaged in the horse racing industry to try and save the last official horse racetrack in the state. Residents are organized and have been working to take back control over their community - before it's too late.
Pictured below: parcel 11, intended for high tech development, slated to be future site of Northville Downs
In 2022, live horse races accounted for less than 4% of wagering at the current Northville Downs facility. Simulcast races are the only reason this facility still exists today.
Gambling hall with a bar open from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM, 7 days a week, year-round, near residential areas and within 1.5 miles of two existing and one planned elementary school.
The inevitable influx of crime associated with gambling facilities, including illegal gambling.
Potential for expanded gaming if legislation being pushed by horse racing industry is passed.
Horse racing is state subsidized - and they could be receiving more subsidies if SB 411-414 pass. There's also concern that this facility will divert Public Safety resources.
Traffic gridlock associated with a two lane road and other large scale developments in the area and a working railroad track.
Unknown financial risk to the community relative to increased taxes for infrastructure improvements, like the burden experienced by Huron Township for the failed Pinnacle Racetrack, and additional public safety costs.
Public events at a facility on a brownfield where contamination is still unknown, but air quality and risk from the nearby landfill are real as well as likely damage to the freshwater creek of Johnson Drain for which the Friends of the Rouge are very concerned.
A decline in public interest in horse racing across the country as well as documented abuse and deaths of horses used in horse racing.
While in the works for what appears to be several years, the move of Northville Downs to Plymouth Township was a surprise and shock to residents who first became aware from a WDIV interview with the township supervisor back in mid-January 2023.
Many residents are still unaware of this proposed development and/or the primary nature of this business.
Ongoing transparency regarding this development continues to be missing, as the Township has made no attempt to keep residents up to date in its Township-wide formal bulletin newsletter which is mailed to all residents quarterly.
Requiring a Planned Unit Development (PUD) to legally allow this development to move forward due to current zoning of the property, the Township Planning Commission and the Township Planner have failed the community, acquiescing to Supervisor Kurt Heise’s direction, by pushing through approval of the site plan portion of the PUD with minimal conditions. The approved PUD is in opposition to the Township’s Master Plan, and its adherence to the Township’s PUD requirements is dubious.
The owners of Northville Downs signed a $10 million land purchase agreement in October, 2022, three months before the Planned Unit Development was submitted. Why would the owners take such a risk if they did not have some guarantee the Planned Unit Development would be approved?
Final approval of the PUD by the Board of Trustees is shrouded in secrecy as Township Supervisor, Kurt Heise, asked for and was granted full authority by a majority of board members to represent and negotiate with NVD owners a required community benefits agreement.
If a vote were taken asking residents if Plymouth Township should allow gambling facilities in the Township, it is believed an overwhelming majority would vote it down. However, residents were not given that opportunity, so the fight continues.
Residents and neighbors of Plymouth Township can join the fight by contacting local officials and legislators, and by spreading the word.
Learn more about the local grassroots fight, and sign the petition to stop the racetrack!