GR Twp. leaders find compromise with longtime business

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Township planning commission decided on several changes a longtime business must make after a developer questioned its operation.

Katerberg VerHage received a special land use permit to stay open, but can no longer haul in concrete, asphalt and other non-natural materials. The 65-year-old business must also stop crushing those materials on its site.

Township officials said an ordinance for the area the business is located prohibits such activity, despite it going on there for years.

“Our job is to enforce the ordinance,” planning commissioner Daniel Ophoff said at the beginning of the discussion.

It’s been a controversial topic.

David VanDyke, a member of the planning commission and the township treasurer, is the developer behind a multimillion dollar housing project going in near Katerberg VerHage.

VanDyke admitted to issuing flyers to people near the landscaping business, pointing out the noise of the company’s trucks and zoning rules Katerberg VerHage was breaking with its current operation.

At Tuesday’s meeting, residents said they believe he abused his leadership power to advance his agenda as a developer.

“Personally, I think it’s a disgrace to our township to have someone on the board who has done that and has a conflict of interest and directly caused some of this conflict that’s going on,” said resident Linda Mefford.

Tom VerHage said the changes will be expensive, but he was happy with the compromises made at Tuesday’s meeting.

His company will have three years to remove all prohibited materials from the site. They also have a one-year window to crush any remaining concrete already there.

“We were surprised to say the least that all this came upon us, but those things happen and people have different points of view,” VerHage said after the meeting. “We’ve always tried to be a good neighbor.”

The commission also unanimously voted to allow storage bins for asphalt millings and aggregate material. They will have a maximum pile height of 35 feet. Trees on the east end of the property must also be a minimum of 20 feet.

Vandyke recused himself from the vote and did not attend the meeting.

VerHage said that he may seek a few more changes later down the road. For now, he’s just happy to have a solution.

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