Copart decision avoids unnecessary project delays

To the editor:

I am a bit puzzled by the criticism of the rezoning for the Copart project.

Here is a perfect example of good local government. The board trying to truly do what most conservatives or Republicans want — cut the red tape of bureaucratic delay. Too often we see jobs delayed (or lost) by government delays which serve no purpose.

Waiting until April 29 for the next Township Board meeting for the change of zoning would simply have caused a 42-day delay. The Planning Commission held a public hearing (March 16) and approved the change 6-0. One of the tests they have to satisfy is to verify that this is not a case of spot zoning (which is what a “pet project” would be). If any of four questions are found to be “true,” it may be that there is preferential treatment, or at least inconsistent zoning.

All the spot zoning questions came back “false.” If any of the four were false that would satisfy the requirement and Planning could recommend approval. All four being false is a slam dunk.

The zoning just changed for the property was from a combination Farming & Industrial, which is in itself unusual, to Mixed Used. The former did not allow sales, you needed Commercial for that. The old master plan had Industrial on the north and Commercial on the south of 142nd. To the west, across the freeway, the Planning Commission has rezoned in a couple of cases to the Mixed Use to help develop the Industrial Park.

The Commercial venture in this case helps these cars to be sold over the internet around the world.

The new master plan — which has been delayed by COVID-19 — is likely to have these as recommended changes.

So the board not acting rashly or trying to bypass the public. The public was well represented at the Planning Commission meeting. And while the public had questions, they were either answered or written as administrative requirements that Professional Code Inspectors will enforce.

Requesting a change in zoning to help a Dorr citizen sell his land is something the Planning Commission does all the time. And they do not always approve the request, but they are the ones who investigate, study and determine the facts of the situation. They then make recommendations to the board.

Since this was a non-controversial decision there is no reason for the board to insist that the resident wait to sell his land to an industrial concern instead. And that is what the board would be doing by turning down the rezoning.

And paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, sometimes the best government is just to get out of the peoples’ way.

As for the project itself (which does not call for a board vote), this may lead to more local jobs (13-20), which is always a good thing. Copart still must meet several requirements, including OKs from Allegan County.

— Jim Martin, Dorr

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Martin recently retired as Dorr Township Treasurer and continues in township government as deputy treasurer.


  • Mr Martin
    Keep telling yourself that what happened was ok, and the correct way to do things. Hopefully, you are also convinced the public was adequately represented at the planning commission meeting. Which as you must of known the only obstacle was the Township’s ok. If you can sleep soundly each night knowing that it only took 48 hours to approve a glorified “junkyard “. Who are we to question the decision.
    You said the original master plan had that for industrial development. So in your mind rezoning to mixed is not “spot zoning” . Why, not tell us what all is covered under the ” mixed unberalla” ? Will this open the area to businesses the residents may not find very compatible? ( will the Board reject their proposal in 48 hours or less ? )
    Your analogy of what most conservatives and Republicans want is very flawed. What just happened is a perfect example of a Marxist/ Socialist form of government or at the very least a Dictatorship. ( nice touch casting the blame on a predominantly Republican area) . The 13 to 20 jobs is a wonderful touch also, amazing how that works when used to justify the speed of this project.
    You do know the owners ( original owners ) tried to sell that property years ago, but the project was not industrial. So they couldn’t sell it. Amazing isn’t it.
    Did PCI ( professional code inspectors ) inherited more power that just writing warnings and fines? Telling us Allegan County could potentially stop this project is a total joke.
    Mr Martin…are you the deputy treasurer or deputy supervisor or both? I ask, because I find it very interesting most replies coming from Dorr Township’s Board are written by you.

  • Jim,

    Looks like you would have been another slam dunk yes vote……….This in my opinion is a very big decision, one that needs time to explore. 48 hours is hardly enough time. Did anyone really look at the property in question? Driving from the east going west is going to be a huge eyesore. I am afraid an 8 foot fence won’t even come close. Did anyone drive to Lansing to see Copart’s other facility and or talk to the local residents around that yard? 48 hours doesn’t lend to much time to do due diligence. These big corporations come in and stroke the local boards and certainly paint a rosy picture. Let’s not forget the special use permit that was granted as well. Drive by some of the other junk yards in Dorr Township. I am guessing LKQ gave the local board lots of promises as well……….Go take a look………….Junk cars in the parking lot nearly every night…………Total joke!! Can we not attract anything better than salvage yards in Dorr Township?

    Jim, Thanks for your input……..


  • Copart USA is a big outfit. Headquartered in Dalas TX, it was valued $25.4B in 2020. They have locations in in 47 states and are multinational with locations in Canada, the Middle East and other countries. The proposed Dorr Township location will be its sixth location in MI, first in West MI.

    Copart is no penny ante or fly by night company and they know where to locate their salvage yards. Typically in places like Dorr Township where one Copart is established it will have a whole lot more assets and legal budget for any future “disagreements” after they have established a location.

    If there are local residents who opposed Copart. it’s up to them to go to the county and state to insist on knowing how Copart is going to design its facility to capture fluids from its inventory of damaged vehicles and what’s done to protect the local aquifer. Then make sure the site is built to plan. Dorr Township residents’ wells depend on aquifers for their potable water.

    I see no issue with the township planning commission proceeding if the business is allowed in the master plan. Its unfortunate that the township was unable to attract a more desirable business like light manufacturing or a food processing plant that could employ more than double the number of 20 jobs.

  • To Harry Smit:

    I am the deputy supervisor.

    I write replies when I can clarify something. I haven’t taken a poll of the Township Board to know how many read the follow-up to meetings, but I am pretty sure I am usually the first one to read TB after the meetings. I’m guessing that most do not read it. If I spot something in the Broadcast I pass it on. I find it informative and entertaining.

    To John WIlkens:

    The only question for the Township Board was whether the property zoning be changed from Industrial and Agricultural (land nearest the road Industrial, rest Agricultural) or change it to Mixed Use.

    The Board does not review the plans or approve the project. Those are the jobs of the Planning Commission and our Planner/Enforcement Agent (P.C.I.).

    Specific fields of expertise (drains, water quality, sewer, and traffic) handled by state and county agencies are involved in final approvals/permits.

    And on the side issue of LKQ that was brought up and P.C.I. is on it. Feel free to call the office any time they are violating their agreement.

    To Couchman:

    The issues about the groundwater were discussed and are on the list of specific items PCI will be checking as the project goes forward. As will Allegan County.

    • Jim,

      I certainly understand the role of both boards. Thanks for the clarification. Maybe I should have been more clear.
      I expect the Planning Commission to fully investigate all proposed projects, this would include visiting other sites, talking with people who are directly affected by these types of projects. Not just watch and listen to a video presentation by the salvage yard on how great of a job they do. Do you really think they are going to show ALL that is involved in a salvage yard?
      I would expect IF the Planning Commission is unwilling to do this, and by all accounts did not visit the Lansing Salvage yard to see what impact they had made on that area, that the township would do their due diligence for the good of all the township residents.
      Sir, are you indicating that the Township Board never overrules the Planning Commission? Let us remember the Township board is elected by the people, the planning commission are not.


  • Couchman:
    You are only 50% correct on the opposition… we as residents have elected a township board to represent we the taxpayers of this township. We have entrusted them to make sound decisions that will affect everyone in the township.
    It seems very irresponsible to make a decision in 48 hours that has many detrimental effects upon the area. We all know the County will just “rubber stamp” the township board’s decision. Past records show very few times the County has ever stopped a project the township has given its “blessing” to.
    Allegan County believes we (Dorr Township) are the “arm pit” of the county and another junk yard ( sorry, salvage facility) will make no difference. Remember, the new imagine trash recycling project going in just up the street from this one. Dorr Township will/has be come a safe haven for all businesses or industries that can pollute our environment.
    The Township Board has put this issue beyond the reach of any group of residents opposed to it. As you stated, this is a multi-billion dollar company, and no amount money could be raised to combat this project. Another truth is all those who voted this in will be long gone before the effects to the aquifers and other concerns will surface.
    A few months from now no one will care.

  • Mr. Smit,

    Personally, I see Copart as a 21st Century auto salvage yard. I’ve read about them prior to this regarding their salvage business and depending on who your auto insurance happens to be your insurer may direct or insist the body shop doing repairs to supply pre-owned (used) parts salvaged by and sold by Copart. Copart also purchases totaled vehicles from insurance companies. Its a big business.

    January 2021 data by MI state office of Technology, Management and Budget reported Allegan County has a workforce of 60,944. If the maximum of 20 new jobs happen it means Copart will create increase of 0.000327% for the county workforce. A drop in the ocean and the highest paid jobs will go to people already working for Copart in other locations not current Allegan County residents.

    The same voting citizens who are responsible for the Dorr Township board also voted for Allegan County Commissioner for District 4 Mark DeYoung and Allegan Conty Drain Commissioner Denise Medemar. Drain Commissioner Medemar has input to the State of MI Department of Environmental Quality who also has input on site plan approvals. In addition you and other concerned citizens can contact Steven Johnson, our MI State Representative for District 72 and Aric Nesbitt, our MI State Senator for state senate district 26.

    If they are interested in your concerns and they will address them and possibly involve themselves prior to final approval. All of the elected officials listed won re-election in November 2020. County Commissioner DeYoung ran unopposed, Drain Commision Medemar garnered 65% of the vote in her race. Representative Johnson was re-elected with 55.1% and State Senator Nesbitt won in 2018 getting 56.7% of the vote.

    According to the campaign literature i regularly receive, every one of them are interested in their constituent’s concerns. Now is your chance.

    • Mr. Couchman,

      Good luck with either side caring about what us folks think or say.
      Sadly, that train done left the station years ago. Well, perhaps a few exceptions.

    • Mr Couchman
      You are correct the “ball is in my court”. The township board put it there thru their lack of digelent research on this project. Deciding in 48 hours was and always will be irresponsible governing practices.
      Yes my letters and concerns will be mailed . This billion dollar company has already had their people contacting all levels of government in the area they plan to settle. It’s usually a small rural township board, village or small city that can slow them down. In the end if they want to put their business in a particular place it may take time but it does arrive.
      The least the Dorr Township Board could of done was had it’s residents believe they did some research.
      Presently it just is out of character for how this Board usually operates. Which does generate some concern.
      History does repeat itself….unless you are relatively new to Dorr Township. And know nothing about the “famous recall”….the faces have changed but the actions remain the same.
      All Aboard…the train is leaving the station

      • Please see the township board vote. Three members voted against thisn Sewers, Stanton and Tuinstra. Let’s thank these folks for wanting to do the right thing. Look to those who voted yes on this when you want to place blame; Champion, Mars, Miling and Weber voted yes to fast track this project.

      • Mr. Smit,

        Sir, My name is Chandler Stanton, I am a member of the Dorr Township Board and I had a profound calling to vote against this approval for many reasons. I respectfully ask that you please take note of those who did not vote to approve this motion.

        Thank you Sir

        • Mr Stanton
          I do appreciate your no vote. So why haven’t any of you that voted no responded explaining your concerns so the residents know what is happening.
          Are the three of you just going to say well guess we lost this one. With no outcry over how quickly this was approved from you who voted no. It leads me to believe just maybe after things go bad at least you can say ” I didn’t vote for it”
          Sir, letters from you three board members to the County, and our State representatives would surely carry more weight than a regular resident.
          Voting you “new” members in gave many of us hope things like this would not happen. When two of the three “fall into step” with the “old guard ” nothing has changed.
          Sir, knowing one of the three new members has some knowledge that 48 hours isn’t enough time. Does give me some hope….but I predict most votes will be the “famous 4 to 3” that has plagued us for the last few years.
          Prove me wrong, the three no voters shot encourage people to write letters stating all the reasons each of you could not vote yes at the time.

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