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Brighton Township Residents Outraged Over Gravel Pit Mining Proposal

Residents are concerned about ground water contamination and other environmental factors if the permits for the site on Jacoby Road are approved.

Brighton Township residents packed Township Hall Tuesday night to share their concerns about a site plan proposal to resume mining and fill activities at the gravel pit on Jacoby Road, west of Kensington Road.

The gravel pit has been abandoned since 2009 when the property owner Sunset Sand & Gravel went out of business.

Clearwater Development, LLC, purchased the property in April and has filed for permits to resume mining and filling activities on the site.

Township resident Gerald Putt said his biggest concern is contaminating the aquifer, which would then contaminate his well which is just down the road from the site.

"We have scarred a bunch of the township - a big area - with these gravel pits," Putt said. "If you drive by there, and right now the leaves are all down, you have a view that you think you're at the Grand Canyon. I don't see that ever being reclaimed where its going to satisfy anybody for residential. This hole that's in the ground here is much deeper than it was supposed to be. What worries me is that this lake just appeared and for that lake to appear, they had to hit the aquifer. And I'm right down the road and my well is only 80 feet deep. If any contaminated soil comes into the land area there and contaminates that aquifer there's going to be big trouble."

Township residents are bitter about how things ended with the previous property owner, Sunset Sand & Gravel when it went out of business.

The company had a joint development agreement with the township to even out land elevation, install the entranceway and roads, construct an on-site well, construct a septic system and irrigation lines and donate $75,000 toward a future park on the township's property, which lies adjacent to the gravel pit.

Some residents voiced concerns over whether the park and gravel pit would be operating at the same time. Township Manager Brian Vick acknowledged child safety concerns, but didn't have any answers to questions.

As part of the agreement with the township, Sunset would have built 22 high-end residential units and a 12-acre lake on their property.

Many residents were angry that the township never took legal action against the company for violating the terms of the agreement for not completing the residential or park development. The land remains undeveloped.

Clearwater wants to change the joint development agreement previously held by Sunset, and develop two large estate homes, as opposed to 22, and expand the lake to 25 acres. Township Planner Kelly Matthews said that she has not received any additional information from the company.

Township resident Jo Ellen Pisarczyk expressed concern that the company, which was incorporated in April as well, has no history of mining or land development and questioned if the township has looked into who runs the company and its background.

Harris said that the township is now a partner with Clearwater, and that there is no screening or investigation into any township property owner - that the practice is not done in America.

Township critic Mike Palmer said his main concern was that Township Supervisor Tom Murphy previously stated during a board meeting that there were no funds for the township to develop a park, yet the fund balance currently has about $717,000, which Vick confirmed.

"That's not being transparent with the public, nor the primary people that's going to be impacted by this," he said. "The direction we're going is that they're going to start mining again and you're already talking about getting in bed with these people. I'm upset with the direction of this entire township. It just seems like you're getting in bed with everybody. It's called 'Let's make a deal.'"

The Board of Trustees has not reviewed the proposal because Clearwater has not yet submitted additional materials nor new plans. Vick and Harris said they would take all residents' concerns to the board.

BTHOA January 16, 2013 at 02:35 PM
See more in depth information at https://sites.google.com/site/brightontwphoa/
Julie January 16, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Not only should Brighton Twp. residents be concerned, but all southern MI residents should be concerned. If any contaminants get into the aquifer, then it will flow to the Huron River watershed, Kensington Park & Island Lake Parks and their beautiful lakes and water. Residents are concerned and trying to avert a major possible catastrophe! I'm not sure why the township board seems to be more concerned with appeasing Clearwater than the safety of the residents and beyond - at least that way my perception of Harris' stance last night.
Joellen January 16, 2013 at 11:14 PM
When I bought a home, I had to qualify for a mortgage & have a decent credit history. A company is proposing to haul gravel on our roads, dump fill materials on a site with an open water table, develop housing, share township park property...and we're not going to check out their safety record, compliance record for hauling and dumping, ability to finance contractual obligations & pay bond guarantees? No wonder the township has never been able to hold these gravel companies accountable or enforced court ordered clean ups.
Melanie January 17, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Elected officials are supposed to look out for their constituents’ interests. Not doing this is unconscionable and is risking their jobs. I really can’t say I am excited about the development of a chem-lawn/pesticide loving neighborhood next to my water table. In fact, the water table begins at just 35 feet, where I live, which is less than 1 mile from the site. Maybe that is where the newly developed pond came from? P.S. We just had to get a new well drilled our 60 foot deep well failed. I am sure it is just coincidence, it was a very old well, but has anyone else shared this experience?
scott amman January 17, 2013 at 02:58 AM
It was disappointing to see that none of our elected officials even showed up for the meeting.
Trisha Luttmann February 03, 2013 at 10:33 AM
It seems that we have a lot of neighbors in Milford who will likely also be affected and would be interested in joining in --if only they knew about it. Can the word go out to them as well? There still doesn't seem to be enough coverage on this.
Jo February 04, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Trisha, We welcome all interested citizens & invite you to connect with us at: brightontwphoa@gmail.com We also have a website with detailed information. https://sites.google.com/site/brightontwphoa/ Thanks! BTHOA

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