Residents voice concerns over proposed gravel pit

April 25, 2019

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

It was standing room only at the Hayes Planning Commission meeting Tuesday evening when residents came to protest a special use permit on Mostetler Road in Harrison.

For the second time in recent years, Harrison’s Mostetler Road residents are up in arms over a proposed development in their neighborhood.

Fisher’s Construction Aggregates has asked the Hayes Township Planning Commission for a special use permit to put a gravel pit on the Gambles property on the road.

It was standing room only when the Planning Commission met to discuss the matter.

Residents also protested in 2009 when Moto Mania developed an ORV (off road vehicle) Park on 200 acres there. A special use permit was granted to developer Longenecker of Freeland, but the permit was deemed illegal. Residents on the road protested noise, erosion, pollution and dust raised by the enterprise and a Circuit Court injunction filed by neighboring property owners halted the park development. In 2010, the Hayes Township Zoning Board of Appeals approved a motion taking the permit away.

The matter had come before the ZBA and the Planning Commission three times, and in November of 2010 the permit was reversed because it was “inconsistent with the township’s zoning ordinance.”

Residents in the area feel a gravel pit and the truck traffic it would bring to the neighborhood on Mostetler Road is an even bigger threat to the residents there.

Planning Commissioner Chair Stan Lewis told Tuesday night’s audience that “No decision will be made tonight.” He gave each speaker three minutes to comment to the board.

Harry West, who lives across from the proposed site said it would “destroy home values and the water quality in the neighborhood.”

Justin Hayward, speaking for the Young family, said the Michigan Zoning Enabling act of 2006 says it (the proposed gravel business) must be compatible with adjacent property. He cited a study from Upjohn that claimed property values around the gravel pit would “fall up to 35 percent.”
Vanay Jencis cited health and safety concerns from “fumes and silica. It doesn’t fit the neighborhood,” he said. “Would you buy a home next to a gravel pit?

Lavonn Mahar talked about issues concerning the road, saying access would be limited because “our bridges need repair.”

Dean Kusiac who lives down the street said his parents live right next door to the proposed gravel pit. “They tell us there will be no real change in property values. Who are they kidding?” He said property adjacent to the operation would see a 30 percent drop; property one mile away would see a 14.5 percent drop and even at two miles away there would be a .89 percent decrease in value. “There will be 80 or more trucks a day. Twenty-three families live here; there’s a church. It’s sad how Patty Yung is being forced out of her home.”

Teresa Booms spoke in favor of the gravel pit. She said, “I was born and raised in this town. I ask you to consider the entire community, not just the 23 families that live here. It will bring jobs to the community.

Terri Browne brought up another concern. She said the access to Business US 27 – the intersection of Grant and Mostetler Road will cause a traffic problem. “People have a hard time getting out now. What will happen when the gravel trains are using it? It is already a bad situation.”

Amber Demoss reported a similar situation in Grass Lake near Jackson. “The particulate in the air (caused by operations in the gravel pit) could affect as far as the high school,” she said.

Robin Lindstrom cited the danger to residents who drive ATVs on the road. “We are at the bottom of the steepest hill. They (the ATV riders) would be a bug on a windshield – there’s no way to get out of the way of these trucks.” She said her home is so old that it will “crumble” when the trucks come through.

Dick Irvine repeated some of the concerns on property devaluation, Jake brakes and the dangerous intersection. “Somebody needs to address the issue of that intersection,” he said.

Virginia McLane also repeated concerns. “Zoning laws have to be considerate…this is so wrong I can’t believe it.” She added, “Big business should never kill off a neighborhood.”

Emmerson Addison said, “You should consider the summer people. (With that gravel pit there) They are not going to be coming up, not going hunting, not buying at local businesses. Consider what waste materials will be generated and the cleanup costs. Will they (Fisher) be liable for damages? I suggest amending the township charter to allow people to vote.”

Tim Cooper, who owns 80 acres across from the proposed gravel pit said the board should “Consider this community. This will cost you more than you will make.”

Joseph Quandt, spoke representing Fisher Sand and Gravel. “Our letters demonstrated the need. The Zoning Enabling Act says a township can adopt an ordinance to govern (a gravel pit). If criteria is met you have to issue a permit.” He responded to the issues brought up saying, “This is not a wet evacuation process. It would all be above the water table.” He said the Upjohn report cited was based one study of one gravel pit and noted that it doesn’t use actual date from land sales. He said “We have already agreed that we will take care of the roads.” Addressing traffic safety he said there was “adequate turning distance” at the intersection. Concerning the bridges, he said, “One bridge can’t be used. The others – not true.” He said the data on silica impact is incorrect. “No results show respiratory problems from silica at a gravel pit. Rely on factual evidence.”

After the board discussed the request for the special use permit, a second public comment period brought more comments about the residents’ concerns.

Chairman Lewis read a motion. “I move to direct the Zoning Administrator and Township counsel to take all action necessary to establish an escrow account with the Township Treasurer to be funded by Fisher Construction Aggregates Inc. in the amount of $30,000 to retain the services of Geological Engineer Andrew Smits of GEI Consultants and Traffic Engineer Christopher Zull of Progressive AE to review the adequacy of the Fisher SEUP application and the proposed site plan related to environmental dust impacts, gravel pit operations, land reclamation procedures and traffic and pedestrian safety impacts. The Township shall also use the proposed escrow account for fees associated with Township counsel’s review of Fisher’s SEUP applications. Fisher’s SEUP compliance with the Township Zoning Ordinance and Michigan Zoning Enabling Act and to adequately protect the interest of the Township and its citizens.”

The motion was approved by the board members.

Lewis said no decision would be made on the permit until all of the information requested was available to the board for study. “Our next meeting is July 10th,” he said. “If a meeting is scheduled sooner than that, everyone will be notified.”

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