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Township re-excavates sand mine request


By Scott Sullivan


The Saugatuck Township Planning Commission will reconsider a sand mine proposal near Old Allegan Road and 133rd Avenue after learning its earlier denial was based on an ordinance Michigan law may trump.

The commission Dec. 18 nixed a request from Top Grade Aggregate to remove 125,000 cubic yards of sand and create a 4.94-acre pond on an A2-zoned 36-acre parcel at 6400 133rd Ave. because, per Township Ordinance 40-693, it was not harmonious with a nearby residential neighborhood and would change the essential character of the surrounding area.

Top Grade, working for landowner RJ Prospects, proposed digging a deeper and wider hole on the lot’s southwest corner at a spot already excavated by Ravines Real Estate, the land’s former owner.

Top Grade’s Sept. 20 Special Approval Use request was discussed at length during an Oct. 23 public hearing during which neighbors voiced concerns about truck traffic, noise, pollution, effect on groundwater and nearby home values such operations might engender.

The commission voted 7-0 in December against granting such a use. At their Feb. 5 meeting members rescinded that decision based on township attorney Nick Curcio advising them Michigan Zoning Enabling Act 110 of 2006, Section 125.3205, might invalidate that denial.

Section 205, Part 3 of the state act reads: “An ordinance shall not prevent the extraction, by mining, of valuable natural resources from any property unless very serious consequences would result from the extraction of those natural resources. Natural resources shall be considered valuable for the purposes of this section if a person, by extracting the natural resources, can receive revenue and reasonably expect to operate at a profit. ”

Part 5 adds: “In determining under this section whether very serious consequences would result from the extraction, by mining, of natural resources, the standards set forth in Silva v Ada Township, 416 Mich 153 (1982), shall be applied and all of the following factors (seven total) may be considered, if applicable …”

“Our township ordinance is more restrictive,” said zoning administrator Steve Kushion said. “Since state law could overturn it, we might overhaul that ordinance.”

The planning commission has scheduled a new public hearing on the mining request, now calling to remove 400,000 cubic yards of sand to create a 3.5-acre pond, at its next meeting Monday, April 30, in the township hall, 3461 Blue Star Hwy., at 7 p.m.

The application and other pertinent information may be viewed at the hall during regular business hours. Interested persons may comment about the request by attending the hearing or by letter, fax or email prior to the meeting.