Bear Creek recommends against soil mining

Bear Creek recommends against soil mining

Bear Creek Township board members decided unanimously Wednesday to recommend against county-level approval of a soil mining project just south of Petoskey.

With this decision, the board reversed the position on the controversial mining proposal which Bear Creek’s planning commission had earlier recommended for the township.

Emmet County officials have final say on planning and zoning matters in Bear Creek, with township officials’ positions on such issues serving as advisory ones for the county.

The Emmet County Planning Commission will consider Kery Ridge’s request during a special meeting at 7:30 p.m., today, Thursday, in the county building.

Kery Ridge of Gaylord is seeking a special use permit which would allow the company to temporarily mine soil from a hilly 21-acre site just south of the Anderson Road/Intertown Road intersection, property which has farm-forest zoning.

The company seeks to remove more than 300,000 cubic yards of soil from the property over a 90-day period. The dirt would be trucked north to the retail center which Strathmore Development Co. is building along Anderson Road to be used for embankment purposes. One recent estimate indicated that about 18,000 truckloads of soil would need to be carried off the site over three months.

Kery Ridge proposes to restore the site using steps like grading, seeding and mulching once the mining is complete. The company would provide a pavement overlay on the portion of Intertown Road which trucks would cross when entering and exiting the site.

”We meet the ordinance, and I’d like you to follow along with the planning commission’s recommendation to approve it,” Kery Ridge representative Ken Nowicki told the board.

But in opposing Kery Ridge’s request, one concern cited by the board was that it would not meet the intent of farm-forest zoning guidelines.

While the soil extraction area on the property is hundreds of feet from surrounding residences, township supervisor Dennis Keiser said the driveway trucks will use lies closer to homes than the minimum required distance.

”That 300 foot (minimum) is for the entire project,” he said. ”The driveway is part of the project.”

Keiser said he believes the provisions allowing for resource mining and extraction in farm-forest areas were designed for operations of less magnitude than what’s proposed along Intertown Road.

”It’s not made for a project where you need 300,000 yards of fill or whatever,” Keiser said. ”I don’t think all the pieces fit.”

Road and traffic concerns also entered into the board’s decision. Township trustee Joe Hoffman Jr. said the mining project could lead to detrimental impacts like a possible closing of part of Anderson Road and the need to use flaggers for traffic control at the Anderson/Intertown intersection. He added that the township hasn’t received a written review of road and traffic impacts from the project or who would be responsible for road damages from the hauling.

Several residents near the proposed soil mining site have voiced objections about it, noting the possibility of adverse impacts like noise, dust, traffic problems and depletion of viewscapes for the U.S. 131 corridor nearby.

”I ask you to oppose this project from the point of view of the viewscape,” nearby resident Jane Denay told the board Wednesday, noting the unique drumlin topography of the mining site.

In response to residents’ concerns about traffic tie-ups at the Anderson/Intertown intersection, Kery Ridge representative Ken Nowicki said, ”Common sense says if traffic backs up, our equipment is going to stop and let people through.”

Officials in Resort Township, located a short distance west of the proposed mining site, recently sent their counterparts in Bear Creek a letter asking them to oppose the Kery Ridge request. The Resort board cited concerns like traffic problems along Intertown – a route which many Resort residents follow on their way to and from Petoskey – and noise and dust impacts which could impact portions of Resort near the Kery Ridge site.

Septic on hold

Bear Creek Township board members had planned to consider Wednesday what position they should take on a proposed 900,000-gallon septic storage tank along River Road. But Jack Flynn, who applied for a permit to install the tank, recently asked that officials put his request on hold, so the board delayed any action on it.


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