MARSHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — The Marshall City Council meeting on Tuesday overflowed out the door as the community debated the proposed ‘Marshall Megasite.’
An electric vehicle battery or semi-conductor manufacturer would take over a nearly 2,000-acre space along I-94 and I-69 in Marshall Township if the plan is approved.
But most residents who spoke during the council meeting on Tuesday were strongly opposed to the proposal.
“This is somebody’s dream and what it’s becoming is our nightmare,” one resident said.
“This manufacturing plant does not fit the scale of our community. We’re 7,000 people, we’re creating a town next to it, and we’re killing off a wonderful green space, agricultural space that surrounds this,” another resident said.
Despite residents’ opposition, the city council took a step forward on the project Tuesday, unanimously approving a land transfer to build utilities on the site.
The idea for the ‘megasite’ has been in the work for decades. Those behind the project, like Choose Marshall CEO James Durian, say interest from manufactures has never been higher.
Durian said it would bring 2,000 to 3,000 high-paying jobs to the area.
“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity that we really don’t want to miss,” Durian said. “We’ve lost, over the past 20 years, over 2,000 jobs because of some major employers that have closed. This gives us an opportunity to bring those jobs back.”
Durian also argued the project would keep young people in Marshall for generations.
“They can get that career path right here in Marshall rather than going off to other regions,” he said.
He also said he believes Marshall can see economic development while still preserving the area’s way of life.
Many residents, however, fear the city can’t handle a surge in population and business.
“Are we going to have another thousand people in Marshall? Where are they going to live? We have housing shortages now,” one resident said.
“There’s no way this town’s infrastructure could handle the megasite,” one person said.
One woman voiced concerns on how the local school system would handle it.
“How do you provide for all of the influx of children that are coming in? How is the school system going to handle that, the bus transportation, the teachers themselves?” she said.
Those who want the Marshall Megastie to become reality say it’s an opportunity the community can’t afford to miss.
“This is our chance to bring Marshall back to where it was. We’re not growing it more than where it was originally,” one resident for the project said.
“This is going to help us ensure that future generations can enjoy what we enjoy so much about this community,” another resident said.
Marshall and Marshall Township would need to sign off on it for the megasite to happen and a manufacturing company would need to become part of the plan.