Handy Township wants community input on potentially granting tax abatement for a corporation that plans to construct a test track for autonomous vehicles.

Aisin Holdings of America, an automotive parts supplier with a location in Handy Township, plans to add the track to test driver-less vehicles to the FT Techno of America facility at the Fowlerville Proving Grounds. Aisin applied for an Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate, which requires a public hearing. Township officials recently set a date for the hearing, which is Thursday, May 31st at 5:30pm at Township Hall, during which community members will hear about the proposed project and have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the company potentially receiving the abatement. Community members’ input at the public hearing could influence the township’s decision to grant the abatement or not. Aisin would need to receive approval from the state’s Tax Commission as well.

The abatement would reduce the amount of taxes paid by Aisin on the area being developed for a set period of time; usually 50% of the project cost for 12 years. Construction, track and equipment included, is expected to cost approximately $5(m) million. Township Supervisor Ed Alverson says the abatement would allow a good corporation in the community to further invest into the area, encouraging local development and job creation. He feels overall it would be a positive thing as the benefits would include increasing the property’s taxable value, which is much more than the currently vacant land's is.

The track will measure autonomous vehicles’ performance in detecting and avoiding collisions with pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles in a variety of environments. Project leaders want to break ground in June and previously said they hope to complete the facility by late fall. (DK)