Opponents get their say about Howard Twp. Moose Lake mining operation

Opponents get their say about Howard Twp. Moose Lake mining operation

Public comment is now closed on Moose Lake Aggregate’s quest to expand its mining operation in Howard Township.

Most of the final two hours of opposition comments heard by the township’s planning commission this past week came from four long-time gravel pit foes, Larry and Lucyle Eckler, who own a neighboring specialty crop farm and are involved in a protracted legal battle regarding a 2002 permit the township granted Moose Lake, and Mike and Janet Smith.

The Ecklers maintain that the dust, noise and vibrations generated by the mining was a nuisance to them and their business. Larry Eckler also argued that ”this has lowered property values.”

Lucyle Eckler took issue with a previous comment she said Moose Lake’s attorney Jeff Holmstrom made that ”a limited number of individuals would be affected” by the planning commission granting another conditional use permit application for the mining expansion.

”Every person’s concern should be addressed as if they were a number one priority,” she said. ”You can’t be selective and say, ”˜Only a few people are affected, so disregard them and allow that permit.’”

Janet Smith claimed that the commission was ”tainted” during hearings last year on the permit and should not make the decision regarding the current application.

Her complaint stems from contact Moose Lake’s owner Kenneth Smith, no relation, had with the board when he gave them supplemental materials outside the public meeting, which is not allowed. As a result, the gravel pit had to withdraw its application and resubmit it.

”Unfortunately, no one will every know what conversation accompanied this material,” Smith said. ”Thus I want it on the record that I feel this board has been tainted by the prior contact of Moose Lake and should not be hearing this current application.”

Mike Smith claimed that Moose Lake had previously demonstrated a ”lack of good faith in dealing with the township.”

A few Barron Lake Road residents also complained about Moose Lake truck traffic along the street.

Rebuttal will be heard at 7:30 p.m. July 12.

Source: www.southbendtribune.com

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