Planned Parenthood scraps plan for Auburn Hills clinic, puts building up for sale (Oakland Press)

Published June 21, 2012 by The Oakland Press.

By Ann Zaniewski of The Oakland Press.

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Published: 06.21.12| Updated: 06.22.12

Planned Parenthood has scrapped plans to open a clinic in Auburn Hills, settled a related lawsuit and put the building up for sale.

Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan CEO Lori Lamerand said the organization met its goal of having a presence in Oakland County in April when it opened a different health center in Ferndale.

As part of the settlement, Planned Parenthood has agreed that clinics providing abortions will not be permitted at the property on 1625 N. Opdyke Road.

“It’s a good victory not just for pro-life, but for Auburn Hills,” said Dave Theisen, who opposed the clinic and is the founder of the White Lake-based group Real Estate for Life.

The proposed clinic was the subject of a lawsuit and a source of controversy, with anti-abortion groups staging protests because they believed abortions would be conducted there. Planned Parenthood said no decision had been made about which specific services would be offered in the 17,050-square-foot building it purchased in 2010.

At one time, the building and an adjacent property on which a Comfort Suites Hotel sits were owned by the same entity, which agreed to limit the use of the property in question to “restaurant, retail or office.”

Planned Parenthood contended that a clinic would not violate the covenant. But the hotel owners believed that it would, with their attorney, James Carey, saying that the “office” use does not allow medical offices that conduct outpatient surgeries, a reference to abortion.

In May 2011, Planned Parenthood sued the owners of the hotel property, Shri Sai-Krishna Group LLC. The lawsuit accused them of trying to interfere with its lawful use of the property and of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Earlier this year, Oakland Circuit Judge James Alexander said Planned Parenthood had the legal right to use the property as a medical office. The hotel owners appealed.

Carey said the parties reached a settlement in May. He said no payments were made by or to either party, and that other details of the settlement are confidential.

“Both sides feel like it’s a good settlement,” he said.

Carey said the settlement included Planned Parenthood and the hotel owners agreeing to amend the restrictive covenant so that no clinics that provide abortion services will be permitted on the property.

Lamerand, who signed the amendment, said in an emailed statement that it was not a good use of donors’ resources to spend money on “frivolous litigation” rather than focus on meeting the health care needs of people in Oakland County.

“Even though the lower court agreed that we had every right to operate a medical office on the site, we’ve decided that we are not going spend more time and money litigating their baseless claims,” Lamerand said. “Instead, we will focus upon providing critical health care services. We have not wavered in our commitment to opening more centers in Oakland County.”

She said cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, breast health services, pap tests, sexual health education and health counseling make up 97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services.

Monica Migliorino Miller, director of South Lyon-based Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, participated in several demonstrations in front of the proposed clinic.

“Citizens for a Pro-Life Society is extremely encouraged that Planned Parenthood has backed off from opening their abortion clinic. ... We consider this a huge pro-life victory,” she said.

The building on Opdyke is listed on the website of Jones Lang LaSalle, a firm that specializes in real estate services and investment management. The asking price is more than $1.1 million, but the building also could be leased, with the annual rent listed as negotiable.

Listing broker J.P. Champine said the property was listed two to three weeks ago. It was built in 2005, is available for office or medical use and is in great shape, he said.

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