There may a large crowd in attendance at the next Wayland Township Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 7.
A group of township residents are opposing a gravel mining operation startup on Fifth Street between 135th Avenue and Gregorville Road. A Facebook group insists developer Nate Knight does not have permission to begin such an operation without a special use permit from Wayland Township.
Lori Castello, zoning administrator from Professional Code Inspections, said, “Mr. Knight applied for a special use permit for a mining operation on Mr. George Warner’s property. He then withdrew the application.”
Local residents maintain Knight has said he can do the gravel mining without local approval and is petitioning the state to do so.
Pat Dorr spoke to the Wayland Township Board in May about the Warner/Knight gravel pit/mining operation at 3365 Fifth St. He said Nate Knight has begun digging and mining at the site, despite not completing the process for application for a special use permit.
The Facebook group asserts:
• The township has guidelines for allowing such an operation and the applicant currently does not have township approval.
• The applicant believes he can appeal to the State of Michigan and put in a mine, no matter what Wayland Township says.
• The applicant has already started work on his land to put in “a pond.”
• Per studies on mining over the past 20 years, every property within a mile of this mining operation will immediately lose value — anywhere from 15 to 35%.
• A mine will be allowed to operate from 8 in the morning until 6 at night Monday through Saturday, with an additional twohours on either end for “;maintenance.” Which means you will listen to heavy machinery crushing rock and trucks hauling anytime during these hours.
• According to research studies, the dust (silica) released from a mining operation has been proven to cause multiple lung conditions, including asthma, COPD and cancer. Allegan County already has 20-plus mines within the county and there is no restriction on the number of mines allowed in a county.
• The State of Michigan is considering several proposals to completely remove all townships in Michigan from being able to say “no” to a mine. And, the state would have the ability to say yes anywhere.
The post stated, “If you do not want to live next to a mine, your voice must be heard at the township meetings!
A petition is being circulated.
This is not the first time Knight has gotten into a zoning battle with local government. Not long ago he and the Martin Township Board squared off on his operation near 124th Avenue.
But eventually Allegan County District Court Judge William Baillargeon ruled against Martin Township collecting fees for zoning enforcement against Knight.
Knight, then owner of L&L Materials at 1082 10th St. in Martin, was cited for constructing a barn without a permit and excavating at a nearby swamp without a $1 million performance bond
The township has maintained Knight owes more than $15,000 to the township for recovering the costs of its enforcement efforts.
However, the judge ruled that compliance with the ordinance regulations was sufficient.
The controversy has continued since late last year when the township and zoning enforcement administrator Professional Code Inspections took Knight to court for non-compliance.
The township has contended Knight built a non-permitted barn structure on the property with no permit, originally claiming it was for agricultural use.
Kirk Scharphorn Jr. of Professional Code Inspections said Knight had paid more than $1,000 in fines and fees. He said inside plumbing had been removed, electrical permits pulled to make it stand as an open pole barn as an accessory building for his mining operation.
The board decided last spring to impose a fine of $250 per day until compliance was met. Knight also was to be charged a $500 late fee if and when he obtained a permit.
Knight, in an e-mailed message to Townbroadcast, said, “… they tried getting me to pay them over $6,000 for fines and the judge threw it out due to all the lies they stated and on and on crap, they get nothing.
“I will be pursuing federal court charges against Martin Township in coming days.”
There has been no word since about any such suit filed against Martin Township.