COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - It has been three years to the day since the Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, and as the clean-up process continues for Enbridge, so do the problems.
A Comstock Township planning commission meeting lasted nearly four hours Thursday evening as commissioners and residents discussed a dredging pad set up by Enbridge as part of its clean-up efforts.
The problem was twofold: The company didn't have the site plans approved before it built the pad and many argued it did not meeting zoning requirements.
The plan is for Enbridge to dredge an area of water and put what pulls out of the river in the dredge pond. But because Enbridge didn't get the site plans approved by the planing commission, that isn't happening.
There are a lot of concerns with its current location, which is in a commerce park in Comstock Township. Area residents and Township Supervisor Ann Nieuwenhuis are worried that what sits in that pad could get into the ground water. That is a concern because people in the area rely on well water.
The planning commission listened to public comment and there were plenty of upset people stepping up to the podium to speak their mind. Residents are upset that the dredging pad has been set up right behind their houses.
"I can tell you that their little Lake Enbridge they have going on right now is draining into my backyard. If there are any members of the board that would like to take a tour of what they have going on and want to see it, I would be more than happy to you on a walk through our property so you can get a bird's eye view of exactly what is back there," resident Jennifer Jones-Newton said.
Nearby Bell's Brewery has filed a lawsuit against Enbridge, saying the pad will contaminate the raw ingredients it uses to brew beer.
Nieuwenhuis also has concern over potential smells and the added truck traffic in the area.
A second issue is the area where that dredging pad is zoned for light manufacturing. Many residents and a few on the planning commission have made the argument that Enbridge is not manufacturing anything. Enbridge says they are manufacturing something to take to a Three Rivers dump.
The planning commission voted unanimously to send the issue to the zoning board of appeals, which did not resolve the issue.
The zoning bard will have to decide if Enbridge's operations meet the requirements of the light manufacturing label, after which the issue will likely go back before the planning commission.
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