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Northville Downs Sues Plymouth Township for $10m+ and Requests that the Planned Unit Development be Granted

The Path to the $10m+ Lawsuit

$ Pay to Play?

A minimum of $31,000 contributed to Heise political funds over the years from horse related persons.

Includes among others:

  • NVD Owners

  • Mike Cox, Attorney for NVD

  • Hazel Park Raceway Owners

  • Michigan Harness Horseman’s Assn

  • Michigan Farm Bureau (strong proponents of horse racing

  • Hillside Developer Owners – Sold property at 5 and Ridge to NVD

Estimated that over 70% of contributors to Heise’s PAC and campaign funds are from individuals and companies outside our Township.


Wayne County and State of MI

Campaign Finance sites

Unchecked Power

Heise's control is far-reaching in positions held, people hired/appointed and over the media.

Positions held/currently holding:

  • 2010-2016: Ply Twp State Rep

  • 2016-pres.: Twp Supv.*

  • 2018-pres.: Chairman MITC*

    • Appoints Gary Heitman to Board

  • 2016-pres.: Chair of WTUA*

  • 2016-pres.: Chair of Ply Twp Brownfield Redevelopment Authority*

     * Current

Further, Carlo Bros state on 1/27/2021 they will know more about their future in the next 60-90 days.  Timing in line with lawsuit claim.

In May, 2019, Heise himself stated that the Twp was approached to put in horse racing on the MITC site. (Hometown Life)  This is nearly two years before the Jan 2021 meeting.

Back Door Deals

In Jan 2021, Kurt Heise and Twp Economic Developer, Gary Heitman (resident, former Trustee, and horse racing enthusiast/horse owner) meet with Carlo Bros and their attorney to discuss relocating NVD to Plymouth Twp in MITC Corridor as stated in lawsuit filed by NVD (p4, #15).

Complicit Planning Commission/Board

Heise makes rare appearance before Planning Commission on Feb 2023 and pushes for approval of NVD Planned Unit Development proposal.

  • The Planning Commission which includes Treasurer Doroshevitz approves NVD Planned Unit Development (PUD) in spite of many residents pushing back after having found out about it at the last minute.

  • It was pushed through without meeting criteria of a valid Planned Unit Development.

  • Heise promises NVD votes to push approval through except for Trustee Curmi. (lawsuit pg.5, #20)

  • Heise convinces Board to give him carte blanche to negotiate a community benefits agreement with NVD.

Lack of Transparency/
Lies to Residents

Heise purposely withholds his desire for a gambling facility in our Township while he and Gary Heitman negotiated a back door deal.

  • In violation of the Open Meetings Act, in 2022 MITC minutes fail to be posted on time and lack any information about NVD purchase of property in Township.

  • He lied about the state of the contamination of the property when asked by residents.

  • And he is falsely telling residents he saved our community from the racetrack/casino.

  • NVD locating in our Twp as a result of a settlement negotiated by Heise is still a reality. Movement to Fowlerville is temporary at best.

Heise Scrambling to Keep Unilateral Power

Heise pulls negotiations one month prior to PUD expiring after Mike Cox accuses Heise publicly of using extortion to facilitate Agreement.

  • NVD files Lawsuit Feb 27, 2024

  • Township responds April 29, 2024

Summary of Twp Response

  • ~38% of claims by NVD, Twp neither admits nor denies

  • ~22% they admit

  • ~40% they deny

Why are the grassroots Stop-the-Racetrack team being targeted by our Supervisor? If you disagree with the local administration, will you be next?

While residents fighting the gambling casino and racetrack have worked together regardless of political views, Kurt Heise has made this personal for our team members.  For awareness, Kurt Heise is targeting residents who have been vocal in opposing the racetrack. 

But to discredit his latest campaign mailer claiming "residents have been played", petition signer information for those who have signed the petition has NOT been provided to his opponent, Chuck Curmi, to use in this year's race for Supervisor.  Don't take the bait when Heise's character speaks for itself!  Just a few examples of Heise's untrustworthy actions below (red). 

Stop-the-racetrack actions/thoughts in green.


Heise and Heitman kept their efforts, to recruit NVD, from Township residents for many years knowing full well a casino was needed to support the declining horse racing industry.  Heise also received political donations from NVD lawyer Mike Cox, other horse industry persons and the prior owners of Parcel 11/NVD site.



MITC, with Heise as head, appears in violation of Open Meetings Act, purposefully withholding information about Parcel 11 re NVD in MITC Minutes and continuing to not post minutes in the required timeframe.



Heise pulls negotiations with NVD just before PUD was set to expire even though NVD had not complied with some requirements outlined by the Planning Commission resulting in $10m+ lawsuit.



Heise supported Superior Twp's fight against the logical and preferred engineering solution for routing Salem Sewage to the Ypsi Plant thru Superior Twp against our own Township's best interests.



Heise states Senator Bayer should be at a Board Meeting but her office is a no show.  In fact, Senator Bayer was told she could not be accommodated at that meeting.  Heise was trying to make her look bad for not showing up.


Stop-the-Racetrack group did NOT in fact provide the petitions to the Township.  This was never stated on the internet petition.  Heise would have likely used them against residents or for his own personal interest.  We weren't going to do that to you!



The Stop-the-Racetrack group has also NOT provided petition signer information to Chuck Curmi.



Why is Kurt bullying residents?  Rational, confident and decent people who have nothing to hide, don't act this way!  His out of town donors will continue funding a smear campaign discrediting us.


NVD Lawsuit available for download on MORE INFO page of website.  As new filings become available, they will be posted on that page.

February 29, 2024 - PR Nightmare Created by NVD

Instead of finding a way to turn residential opinion in favor of a gambling facility being forced upon their township, Northville Downs further enflames Plymouth Township residents by filing a $10m lawsuit while stating they still want to operate in the Township.


Catch up to the latest at the following link.

Hometown Life Article

Remember Why You Signed
the Petition

1. Elected officials disregarded the Master Plan for development.
2. Increased Road Congestion
3. No benefit to Plymouth Twp residents
4. Gambling facility open all day/night where only 4% of wagers are on live races with desired full-blown casino.
5. Township image forever tarnished, once a city, you can never go back!
6.  Increased public safety workload, with less focus on residents, and likely increased taxes to support.
7.  Documented abuse of horses and use of performance enhancing drugs (a big enough problem that it is discussed at the state level meetings).
8.  Horse racing gambling is actually subsidized by state tax dollars from gambling to the tune of $6.5m in 2023.
9.  NVD history shows they demonstrate an inability to take care of their property (NVD state shown in images after years and years of neglect).

Outcome of Northville Downs (NVD) Vote at 1/23 Board of Trustees meeting and 1/29 Planning Commission meeting and 2/6 Board meeting
  • Unanimous vote by Board on 1/23 to rescind motion from February 2023 authorizing negotiations of a Planned Unit Development for Northville Downs (basically stop negotiations at this time)
  • Also recommend Planning Commission deny any request for a time extension by NVD. 
  • NVD present during vote, walking out after unanimous vote was rendered.
  • On 1/29 Planning Commission voted unanimously to rescind PUD for Board approval due to NVD's failure to comply with stated requirements.  
  • Further, any request for an extension was also unanimously denied.
  • 2/6 Board formally denies NVD development plan and PUD contract.
Community Remains Vulnerable to Development via Lawsuit
  • As reported in the Detroit News, NVD states they have several legal options they are pondering in response to this vote.  
  • A development said to have been invited to our Township, continuing to try and force itself onto our community by a potential lawsuit or force us to pay up.
  • Sound familiar - the Meijer development playbook
    • ​Recent media announcements indicate "invited" Meijer development now coming to Plymouth Township after consent agreement reached.
    • Why is it that we have to rely on media to get critical updates on our community?
  • Will NVD follow path of Meijer which sued after Planning Commission denied their request and is now going to break ground this spring on a 159,000 sqft store.
  • Does Township have sound arguments for avoiding lawsuit from NVD or are they culpable?
    • Heise indicates in Detroit News article that NVD is controversial and would be disruptive​, so why let it get off the ground
    • The News failed to reveal that the initial plans included a 53,800 square foot gaming facility as second phase (desire for slots reinforced by comments made by horse owner at recent Board meeting)
  • Keeping our community whole, is the only option that is acceptable!
  • These recent, and likely other, disruptive developments across our community have residents' best interests in doubt!
Watch clip of horse owner stating importance of 'slots' to horse racing business at 1/23 Board Meeting
(link to entire 1/23/ Board Meeting)

Recent Article in

Tom Barrett, president of Michigan Harness Horseman Association, is quoted as saying as Northville Downs closed on Feb 3, that "a new track will be built and additional gambling could be added to a new track to support horse racing in Michigan" further stating it will likely come from Historical Horse Racing machines, or slot-like machines. 

While he states HHR machines have been a major success for helping prop up the horse racing industry, data in other states suggests otherwise.  He goes on further to state that the track in Plymouth included the potential for a facility that would house these slot like machines.

This and many, many other reasons reinforces efforts to keep this development out of our community.  The often denied yet now acknowledged publicly, that, as we know, an expanded gaming facility was included in the plans for Plymouth as if betting on live horse races isn't bad enough.


Horse Racing - CBS' 60 Minutes

Click CBS' 60 Minutes link and watch and learn about the ongoing atrocities associated with this 'so-called' sport.

The Reality: Historical Wagering at Michigan Horse Race Tracks - Live Wagering vs. Simulcast

The following graphs represent the reality of Horse Racing in Michigan and Northville Downs as the last track. (sources:  Michigan Gaming Control Board/2017 House Fiscal Agency Report)

  • Betting on horse races that are outside Michigan accounts for nearly all wagers at the Downs (>96%).  Thus a gambling facility.

  • In desperation for viability, the state's horse racing industry will continue to push for more subsidies and expanded gambling with our state government.  If passed by our legislators, they would likely override any other local agreements.

  • Based on the state's internet gaming laws, a gambling facility is no longer needed to bet on horse races outside this state.

  • Read more about impacts to property values near gambling facilities in this recently published article Sold by Dabs  


Lack of Transparency

  • An invitation is said to have been extended to NVD by Township officials years ago.  If so, it was done so in secrecy WITHOUT any input from the community.

  • And negotiation of a required Community Benefits Agreement that has had no transparency with residents.


  • ​Northville Downs owners stated they were contemplating exiting business in 2015.

    • But coincidentally, in 2017, Carlo Bros decided things were now favorable and they decided to stay in the business.  This looks like the time when doors were officially opened to our Township, although intersection with this industry by some Township officials dates further back.

    • 2017 was formal arrival of Heise as Township Supervisor.

  • The smart business move by NVD would be to sell the property to associated 'clean energy' businesses that want to be located near Nel Hydrogen, the new development recently announced for this same area.

  • If there are other communities that want NVD as stated in the article, go there!

Petition Signers as of 8-5.png

Grassroots effort to protect our community will continue by the many opposed to this


Map is representative of petition signers across the Twp

Things do not add up...

  • Why has Heise been so quick to give up on his 2019 vision of "forward thinking" businesses for the prison properties? 

    • During an interview with Hometown Life in May 2019, he stated that "I honestly expect this to be a 30-year project, but once it's done, it will be special."  (click Hometown Life link for full article).

    • It has only been 4.5 years since that interview, far short of the 30 years.

  • Heise continues to push the pandemic as the excuse for quickly moving away from high tech businesses for the DeHoCo properties.  This reasoning falls woefully short because:  

    • The high-tech business, Nel Hydrogen with an initial 513 jobs, will soon be locating on these properties, with likely spin-offs to follow.

    • Which suggests that even after the pandemic, our economy will consistently go through cyclical ups and downs and that high tech businesses are indeed willing to invest in this area.

  • Heise revealed during this same 2019 interview that they had been approached with 'HORSE RACING' for the properties but stated "WE DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING CRAZY." 

    • Yes, as many have stated, a gambling facility in our township in the works for a long time; and, with plenty of time, NOT once was this fundamental change in our community brought before the residents until the required public hearing.

    • Contributions to his PAC going back many years include several horse related entities/persons, including the Carlo Bros and their attorney.

  • Heise repeatedly defends the property rights of businesses; why is he not protecting the property rights of residents?  Read about recent election results in other municipalities relating to unwanted developments.  Detroit Free Press Article dated 11/8, "Michigan voters oust local leaders who supported development projects (".

Northville Downs and other, unchecked and disruptive, developments are impacting not only those living on the west side of the Township, but across the entire Township and the extended community.   

  1. Opposition remains strong and not just among a small group; it is WIDESPREAD and extending across the state.

  2. Take a few moments to review information on this site.  If you are opposed to this development, please sign petition (include email for future notifications and add to your contacts).  Petitions are to assess residential sentiment.

  3. Residents have been publicly opposing this development since first becoming aware by the media in January 2023.

  4. Help spread the word in your neighborhood. 

  5. On final vote day, your presence is needed at the Board of Trustees meeting.  

Email your concerns to (see Contact Legislators page for template):

Board of Trustees:

State Senator Rosemary Bayer:

State Rep. Matt Koleszar:

State Rep. Jason Morgan:

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (submit form)

US Representative Debbie Dingell (submit form) 

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Stop The Racetrack Sign (1).png

Northville Downs - What you need to know: 


Property at Ridge and 5 Mile Roads, zoned for technology and industry, had a Purchase and Sale agreement entered into by Northville Downs owners in October of 2022 with intent to move the racetrack to our own Plymouth Township.







Gambling at 'Northville Downs of Plymouth Township' was targeted for the 2024 racetrack season. However, because of delay that may postpone racing until 2025, a state bill is being proposed to allow for Northville Downs owners to run a temporary simulcast gaming facility in our Township.  Nov update indicates bills are not yet out of committee with the state legislative session done for the year.  

  • Township did not adequately assess resident opinions prior to sale of property for this controversial development, and only gave residents a chance to voice their opinions when an Open Meeting was required for the submitted Planned Unit Development.

  • This development has been rushed for approval in spite of objections by many residents who have taken the time to express their opinions at public meetings and by written and phone contact.

  • This development is a gambling facility

    • ​Betting on live horse races (an industry currently under significant scrutiny)

    • Betting on simulcast races (96% of wagers in 2022 on simulcast races vs. live horse races)

    • And, the potential for up to 1,500 Historical Horse Racing (HHR) slot-like machines pending only successful legislation and voter approval.  Read Twp Supervisor comments in recent Hometown Life article (last paragraph).

    • 2018 Detroit News article which quotes Northville Downs owners:  "But Carlo made clear the track is also still seeking some of the enhanced gambling instruments, like the casino gaming, that some states permit in tracks."

    • “We will continue to work closely with state and local representatives to implement the necessary changes that other states around us have, so we can bring racing back to its finest day,” Carlo said.

    • Current bills in senate committee SB411-SB414 (monitoring of bills will continue even though legislative session ended for 2023).

Your voice is needed! (add to contacts)

What does this mean for our community?


Elected Officials disregarding Master Plan goals for  development

  • Bringing in a business that will change the fabric of our community - Gambling facility

  • Green spaces disappearing. We need MORE, not LESS.

  • Statement made by the unelected Economic Development Coordinator to "fill every open space in our community."  (watch video clip)

  • Also stating, "Guess what, I can put something worse in there, and I can make every one one of you cry with some of the buildings and stuff I can put in the spot." (see video on More Info page, or read article in Hometown Life)


What is the Benefit

to Plymouth Township Residents?

  • And what are the potential health impacts with landfill nearby?

  • Community benefits package - soccer fields in the middle of a racetrack, walking path?  How does racetrack stay immaculate from horse manure and urine. What about the smell?  See site plan

  • Gambling addicted suicide rate reported to be 15 times higher than other addictions.

  • Many white collar crimes resulting from gambling addiction.

  • This facility will be within 1.5 miles of 2 existing schools and one to be built.


Will Increase Congestion of Township Roads

  • The deficient Traffic Study made assumptions on one data point.


  • The traffic study ignores potential impact of other in progress and upcoming developments

  • 5 Mile Rd/Ridge Rd development - Meijer seeking to quickly reapply - pending litigation.

  • Looks like a significantly large number of trucks will be visiting the new unsightly warehouse being built on Ridge Rd, a nightmare already.

  • Questionable daily visit data from Owner of Northville Downs.

    • Northville Downs owner could not provide an estimate during public meeting of current average daily customer visits.

    • However, 288 daily visits were used in traffic study

    • Michigan Farm News stated 250,000 visits in 2021 (or 685 daily visits).


A Gambling Facility with Potential for Expanded Gaming

  • Pari-mutuel betting is a form of gambling.  Horse racing is regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.  So betting on horse racing is gambling and 96% of wagers at Northville Downs are for simulcast races, not live races.


  • While Township officials say 'no casino', the gaming community calls it 'Racino' with addition of HHR slot-like machines.​  Read this April 2023 Article in MIBets where industry leaders state how HHR and slots are being looked at to support industry.

  • Thus, Michigan Senate Committee currently reviewing 4 bills SB411-414 to advance the horse racing industry with additional subsidies and the following kicker:  

  • Allow the Commissioner to issue an amended license to conduct simulcast
    wagering at a temporary location to a license applicant that met certain
    requirements (until facility is built)

  • State legislation passing and voter approval would allow Historical Horse Racing (HHR), comparable to slot machines.

  • While only passing the State Senate in 2021, State Bill SB0396 states that max HHR machines per racetrack will be 1,500 per racetrack facility.  Sec17 (11) (c) p26 of approved SB. 


Township Image Forever Tarnished 

  • Nearby home values may be affected.

  • Northville Downs in Plymouth Township as is - is a gambling facility with a racetrack!

  • There will only be 152 hours per year of horses actually racing on the track.  This is a mere 3.5% of their expected operational hours.

  • There will be gambling from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM, 7 days a week, year round.


Increased Public Safety Workload

  • 2022 breakage fees for Northville Downs were approx. $180,000, far short of the $250k-$350k stated by Heise.

  • Unanticipated increase in Public Safety resources because of this proposal may require a tax increase.

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