Michigan — May 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

BREAKING: McCoig Materials withdraws request for permit to build intrusive, harmful gravel mine in Lyndon Township


Back in March, I wrote about an effort by McCoig Materials to create a gravel mine just north of Chelsea, Michigan in Lyndon Township. Here’s what I wrote then:

As you look at the photo of downtown Chelsea above, imagine 80 gravel trucks a day, 6 days a week rumbling through the middle of it and then back again after they dumped their load. That’s one truck every 4 minutes during daylight hours and that’s the reality of what will happen if McCoig Gravel, a subsidiary of Thompson-McCully, is issued a special use permit and a mineral mining operations permit by the Lyndon Township Board. Janet Cunningham, who inherited the property from her late husband Donald, wants to sell off to McCoig so that they can build a gravel mine north of Chelsea. The gravel will then be hauled south, right through the middle of the village since their is no alternate route, to be processed south of town.

After several standing-room-only hearings and outcry from multiple groups and individuals (including Chelsea resident and actor Jeff Daniels), on May 20th, the Lyndon Township Planning Commission decided to table making a decision on issuing the permit for 6 months.

Yesterday, the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality sent out a letter saying that McCoig has withdrawn their permit application in order to “resolve issues raised by Lyndon Township”:

To Whom It May Concern:

McCoig Materials, Inc. has withdrawn their permit application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Water Resources Division (DEQ file 14-81-0007-P) for lake creation and impacts to regulated wetlands. Their stated reason was to resolve issues raised by Lyndon Township. McCoig Materials, Inc. understands they will need to submit a new permit application to the MDEQ should they choose to move forward with their project and there are impacts to regulated features.

Their letter requesting withdrawal is available for your review upon written request to DEQFOIA@michigan.gov. If you have questions regarding Water Resources Division permit application processes, please contact me.

Helana Nelson
Environmental Quality Analyst
Water Resources Division
Jackson District Office

In a letter withdrawing the McCoig application, McCoig Vice President Reaburn King wrote that, “There are several Township related items that need to be settled and/or require additional analysis. McCoig and its Design Team, feel it would be prudent to concentrate our efforts to satisfy concerns of the Township before proceeding with MDEQ permit. This way, time will not be wasted reviewing a project that could change as a result of the Township approval process.”

This isn’t the end of this story, to be sure. McCoig is likely to work the system to its advantage in whatever ways it can and are all but certain to try to obtain a permit again in the future. Since they are a for-profit corporation with vast resources compared with the Township that is trying to stop the mine, the deck is heavily stacked in their favor.

Still, this is an interim victory for the area residents who are trying to prevent this intrusive and harmful gravel mine from destroying their community and it shows how important local grassroots organizing is when combatting corporate interests, even when the laws favor the corporations over the local government.

Stay tuned. I’ll be watching this closely and will report new developments as they occur.