SALINE – State Representative Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) 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. A possible solution could be McCoig entering 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. McCoig has yet to sign the lease with the DNR, finalizing the agreement.
“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.”
Last year, McCoig proposed a gravel mine within Lyndon Township on a site just north of Chelsea, adjacent to both the Waterloo State Recreation Area and the Pinckney State Recreation Area. Having a gravel mine that close would have had a truly negative effect on the pristine natural environments of both local parks. The mine would also operate six days a week, generating between 60 and 80 round trips made by gravel trucks a day, going through downtown Chelsea, and causing serious damage to the local economy and quality of life.
The application was originally heard by the Lyndon Township Planning Commission in March 2014. Due to Michigan’s Zoning Enabling Act, local governments do not possess the power to regulate mineral rights. With very little left to do, the community rallied behind opposing this proposal. Close to 500 residents filled the public hearing, stating their opposition. Yard signs lined roads along the Chelsea area, stating “Deny the Mine,” visibly showing people’s adamant opposition to the proposal. 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.
While yesterday shows promise for the Chelsea area, the past year highlights a serious issue that Driskell hopes to tackle in the new legislative session: the need for increased 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, I hope to continue this work in the new session, because local communities simply need a seat at this table.”