(Publisher’s note: An announcement of this possible solution was made back in December, but until I had confirmation from one of the principal leaders involved in the situation, I chose not to publish anything about it. To date, there is still no signed document, but here’s an update.)
State Rep. Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) announced over the weekend that there is a possible solution to the locally unpopular sand mine proposed by McCoig Materials in Lyndon Township.
She said McCoig may enter into a lease agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for the reclamation of minerals at the Island Lake Park. A condition of that lease would be that the site north of Chelsea, currently proposed for mining, would be given to the DNR in exchange.
Such an exchange would remove McCoig’s interest or abilities to gravel mine in Lyndon Township, Driskell said in the press release.
However, McCoig has yet to sign the lease with the DNR, finalizing the agreement.
In the press release, Driskell commended the continued collaborative effort by the communities of Chelsea and Lyndon Township with McCoig Mining Company, to find a different location for a gravel mine other than the original site proposed in northern Washtenaw County.
“I am so proud of the work done by citizens, McCoig, as well as state and local governments, to find an outcome that benefits everyone,” Driskell said. “This proves that there are, in fact, solutions to accessing natural resources without additional harm to local areas. Throughout this process I appreciated the work of the Michigan DNR to balance local needs, economic development, and natural resource protection.”
McCoig proposed a gravel mine adjacent to both the Waterloo State Recreation Area and the Pinckney State Recreation Area. The plan included a six days a week operation, which would generate between 60 and 80 round trips by gravel trucks a day through downtown Chelsea.
The application was originally heard by the Lyndon Township Planning Commission in March 2014. And, because of the state’s Zoning Enabling Act, local governments do not possess the power to regulate mineral rights.
Close to 500 residents filled the public hearing, stating their opposition. Yard signs with “Deny the Mine” were purchased be people and placed throughout the Chelsea area.
After such a visible and organized effort on the part of the citizens, McCoig decided it would be best to work with them to find an alternative site and move the project, Driskell said in a press release, while calling for greater local control.
“Allowing local governments to have a say in proposals like this will help us find mutually beneficial solutions,” said Driskell. “Those who live by mines, wells and pipelines will have to deal with the possible negative effects to the natural environment, the local economy, property values and overall quality of life. I began to work on legislation to tackle this very issue last year, and I hope to continue this work in the new session, because local communities simply need a seat at this table.”