Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Michigan LCV: Green Gavels: To Stop Mining Projects, Burden of Proof Weighs Heavy on Localities

By Katie Sulau, Michigan  League of Conservation Voters
Posted Feb. 24 on Michigan LCV Political Week in Review
Reprinted with permission

Last week, we told you about a public hearing to discuss an application to create a massive gravel mining operation just north of Chelsea, Michigan, in Lyndon Township.* Our ears perked up about this particular permit because it is a direct repercussion of a damaging decision on the part of the Michigan Supreme Court, which we covered on Green Gavels, our accountability tool that tracks the decisions of the judicial branch. The Court’s decision applied "innocent until proven guilty" to the predictably damaging environmental impacts of natural resources extraction.

Essentially, unless localities can demonstrate that "very serious consequences" will result from natural resources extraction, zoning boards must approve permits. Former State Representative Matt Huuki (R – Atlantic Mine) sponsored a bill (HB 4746) that reinforced that rule in July 2011, which, unfortunately, passed the state legislature.** Now, Lyndon Township residents are playing automatic defense to stop a mining operation that state law provides should move full speed ahead unless it can be proven that the gravel mine will become a sinkhole for the entire town of Chelsea, or an equally devastating scenario. The good news? The Lyndon Township Planning Commission delayed a decision on the application last Monday, which leaves more time to mount a sizable defense. Consider the gravel mine proposal in Lyndon Township a prime example of the damaging repercussions of statewide policy taking hold locally, and read up on how we got here on our Green Gavels page.

Read more on Michigan LCV's Feb. 24, 2014, Political Week in Review.

Editor's Notes:
* Click here for the Michigan LCV's Feb. 17 Political Week in Review.

**See Keweenaw Now's Nov. 3, 2012, article, "Portage Township Board candidates express views at forum; most challengers to incumbents absent," to learn how HB 4746 affected zoning in the case of the Valley View Quarry in Portage Township.

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