Fast tracking Copart project was bad public relations

ACHTUNG: The following is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

Perhaps the Dorr Township Board’s rush to judgment on a proposed auto salvage business was a public relations nightmare. And it’s a shame.

The board March 18 adopted an ordinance amendment that paves the way for Copart to use a 77-acre parcel near the expressway to build a parking lot to house disabled or damaged vehicles to be sold over the Internet.

It is clear that some folks don’t want this kind of business to come to Dorr, insisting the township not become a dumping ground for others’ waste materials. It also can be argued that Copart’s business really isn’t a salvage yard, but instead a holding tank for an Internet auto sales business.

Nonetheless, much of the torches and pitchforks response to the proposed development is the “fast track” township officials gave Copart for its proposed development. The ordinance amendment was adopted only two days after the Planning Commission recommended it.

This time problem actually was the result of the Township Board meeting date being moved up from the fourth to the third Thursday of the month. Regardless, the board could have delayed a decision for another month to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

The vote to approve the fast track was 4-3, leaving some citizens to cry foul that Copart was given special consideration by not following customary procedures. It was so questionable on the surface that it even made Trustee John Tuinstra look good to a large number of constituents.

To be sure, Deputy Supervisor Jim Martin, formerly the township treasurer, attempted to explain the quick board action as avoiding necessary delays for the project. He also maintained the time-tested philosophy of Republican attitudes toward business and noted the Planning Commission did its thorough review of project plans.

However, another time-tested philosophy at work here is the citizens’ attitude that, “I moved to Dorr to get away from the city,” but now it is spreading its tentacles into this quiet rural community.

Ladies and gentlemen: We cannot stop urban and suburban sprawl. We cannot make it illegal and we cannot deny it entry into our community without a solid reason.

The only power rural folks actually have in this situation involves the much-maligned process called “regulating.” If you can’t stop the intrusion, you must insist on rules to be followed to make the project as least offensive as possible.

I think Copart will have to deal with a lot of regulations. But the Township Board could have avoided the regrettable public relations snafu by delaying the project for a month.


  • Just an observation of the site for COPART,
    it is a hillside, with limited vision for traffic coming from the east or west before the expressway northbound entrance. This will be an accident waiting to happen with slow moving traffic coming out of the auto yard, especially when they turn eastward.

    The planning commission says it is the county road commission problem and/or MDOT. When someone dies, then it will be a problem in court!

  • DTOM
    You are correct it will be a traffic headache. Unless (and I have not seen any plans for Copart ) they propose to do as the Reimagine Trash project and that is to make a service road to a possible ramp at 144th street . That would greatly relieve the traffic on 142nd, just as the service road. As Reimagine Trash will do for 100th Street and 14th Street.
    Unless they build a 15 to 20ft. privacy fence, the yard will be visible, just a portion of Frontier’s is headed west on 144th.
    Yes, this project was a “slam dunk.” Ironically, 4 persons on the Board in a way “tarnished” their appearance of always acting for the good of the residents and the community.
    As Mr Young stated…..I was beside myself having to agree with Mr Tuinstra. This is the second or third time in all his years in office he has made a decision for the good of the community.
    These 3 who voted No must of had valid concerns. Will we ever know what they were? Of course not, the train left the station and any responsible concerns are forever gone.
    I have reservations about this new board. This unusual hasty act (48 hrs) starts to produce “red flags.”
    It will be interesting how fast the county moves on this and what if any restrictions are placed on this project.
    If this is the way things are going to be done in the future, “grab the panic bars” it’s going to be one interesting ride these next few years.

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