Mr by qingyunliuliu


                        REGULAR MEETING HELD MARCH 25, 2008

      A regular meeting of the Charter Township of Texas Planning Commission was held on
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. at the Texas Township Hall.

       Mr. Rothe called the meeting to order. Roll was called.
       Members present: Larry Loeks, Steve Bosch, Greg Rothe, Steve Weurding, and Bruce
Derby. Member absent: Richard Craven, Michael Mair. Clerk Linda Kerr was present, as were
Township Planner Russ Wicklund and Attorney Lynda Thomsen. About 40 interested persons
were present.

       2. Set Agenda
       Without objection, the agenda was approved as amended.

        Mr. Derby moved to approve the minutes of the February 26, 2008 meeting, with
corrections on page to, Item 5, paragraph 3, line 6, last word should be “The”; and paragraph 4,
line two, change “several” to “6 to 10”; page 3, paragraph 8, line 4, change “supervisor” to
“supervision” and :”profession” to “professional”. Mr. Rothe supported the motion, and it
carried unanimously.

       3. Special Exception Use & Site Plan Review: Texas Party Store
           Item No.: PC 08-01 & 08-02
           Applicant: Texas Party, LLC
           Property: 5030 S. 9th St. Kalamazoo, MI 49009 3909-02-101-241
           Request: Approximately 4000 square foot party store selling beer, wine liquor
           and groceries.
       No information has been received in connection with this application. Mr. Derby moved
to have staff notify the applicant that action will be taken at the April meeting. Mr. Bosch
supported the motion, and it carried unanimously.

       4. Public Hearing: Special Exception Use
           Item No.: PC 08-03
           Applicant: Aggregate Resources
           Property: Paw Paw Lake Drive Parcels 3909-32-476-020, 030, 040, 050, 060,
           070, 080, 090
           Request: Gravel Extraction
       Dan Balkema, President of Aggregate Resources, appeared with Don Beagle, his
consultant, and with his attorney. Mr. Beagle made a presentation to the Planning Commission.
He said that the company is requesting a special exception use permit for gravel removal from
land zoned A, Agriculture. It is near Paw Paw Lake Drive. It is also near the existing Aggregate
Resources operation in Prairie Ronde Township. The land in the area is forested, farms, and
wetlands. The land is adjacent to the existing pit. They propose to construct a screening berm.
They would extend the conveyor line from the existing pit to the new area. No processing would
                         REGULAR MEETING HELD MARCH 25, 2008

be done on this site. A front-end loader would be used to excavate. No truck traffic would be
generated from this site. The plan is to extend the operation from east to west and north in
phases 1, 2, and 3. Existing haul routes will be used. They exist in Prairie Ronde Township.
         Mr. Derby asked how much of the existing operation is in Texas Township, and how long
it has existed. Dan Balkema replied that there was extraction in Texas Township, as part of the
Prairie Ronde pit. All the processing is in Prairie Ronde Township.
         The applicant said that work would be sequenced. In year 1, they will prepare and build
berms, put in fence and strip and stockpile soil. In year 2, they will begin extraction in Area 1.
They will also build the conveyor. In years 3 through 6, they will complete areas 1 and 2, and
begin area 3. They will maintain a haul road to get back to the plant site. The rough projection
is that in year 9, they will be done with extraction.
         Mr. Weurding asked about setbacks. The applicant represented that setbacks conform
to the requirements of the zoning ordinance. Pond 1 is in the setback area, but the applicant
owns the land abutting the pond to the east, so the ordinance does not require the setback
         Mr. Wicklund explained that the ordinance requires 200-foot setbacks except 150 feet
are required along roads. The ordinance authorizes the Planning Commission to not require the
setbacks along property lines where the applicant owns adjoining property. The primary issues
here are the berm, its type and position, and screening. There are many positive aspects to this
application, particularly in that there are no direct access points to roads in Texas Township and
no processing on the property. The Planning Commission has flexibility in the type of screening
it requires. The proposed phasing fits within the constraints in the zoning ordinance. Because
this operation is tied to an existing operation in Prairie Ronde Township, there are fewer impacts
on Texas Township.
         Mr. Beagle then stated that the front-end loader wouldn’t make much noise. The back
up alarms only goes on when there is something in the area. The noise vectors are such that
the noise will go up and over the houses in the area. The would prefer to seed the berms with
switch grass or something that will remain as grass, so that in 10 years when the soils from the
berms are reclaimed, that will be easy to do.
         Sherri Laier of the Michigan Nature Association, 326 E. Grand River Ave. Williamston,
MI, said that her organization owns property on Paw Paw Lake. It is a nature sanctuary. One
parcel comes up to 2nd Street. They own 8500 acres throughout the state. The land was
purchased because it is a rare habit known as a prairie fen. This is a type of wetland driven by
ground water that picks up alkalinity. There are several rare species of plants and animals in
the area, including the Mitchell Satyr butterfly. Those species are completely dependent on the
groundwater that runs through the habitat. The Michigan Nature Association is concerned
about the groundwater. Mining is proposed for near 2nd Street and they are very concerned
about the surrounding areas.
         Mr. Beagle said that he has looked at groundwater mapping from the State of Michigan.
They have mapped groundwater pretty thoroughly. The watershed breaks very close to Paw
Paw Lake Road, and water flowing east goes east; west of the line it goes west. They chose to
stay with surface mining in this area as part of their plan. They have no interest in changing
Paw Paw Lake. Mr. Balkema then stated that their mining proposal is about 1000 feet from the
         Nate Fuller of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, 6851 S. Sprinkle Road is
concerned about potential far-reaching effects of this proposal. The east branch of the Paw
Paw River may be impacted. It is a special area. The water quality may be affected. He
agrees there is a surface water division line in the area, but this is a special geologic formation.
The cleanest water in the region comes out of this gravel formation. Mitchell Satyr butterfly is
federally protected. There are only a few sites left in the world for that species. Maybe only 8

                         REGULAR MEETING HELD MARCH 25, 2008

viable populations exist. One of the biggest issues affecting their habitat is the groundwater.
He cannot say whether the proposal will affect the groundwater, but he says an environmental
impact study is necessary. Mr. Derby asked whom Mr. Fuller would recommend to do the
study. He said MDEQ.
        Mr. Weurding asked about the impact of the existing operation on the groundwater.
There was no indication from those present that there is currently a negative impact upon the
groundwater of the prairie fen.
        Mr. Beagle said that the site currently drains to wetland at the easterly part of the site.
Nothing they propose to do will change that. He used MDEQ maps to prepare the plan. Those
maps are the best information available. Their operation will have less impact upon the
groundwater than existing agricultural operations that till the earth without any runoff control.
The areas in question are far enough from the mining operations that a hydrogeologic study will
not give any information.
        Nate Fuller said that his experience, working with Prairieville Township for Prairieville
Creek involved help from the Kellogg Center. They found surface water had little to do with
groundwater, which changes seasonally. They are concerned that if the mining operation goes
below ground level, it could affect the springs.
        John Polderman of S 2nd Street asked how the company would dig ponds with a front-
end loader. Mr. Beagle said that when they get to the stage of restoration, they may come back
for permission to construct ponds. They estimate closure in 9 years. That is their best guess.
        Mr. Balkema said that at the current rate of extraction, they should be finished in 5 years.
He doesn’t want the gate shut behind him, so that is why they are estimating 9 years for
purposes of the permit.
        Mr. Derby asked if they could mine the gravel in a short time, and stockpile it on the
property in Prairie Ronde Township. Mr. Balkema said that is not feasible because of the
amount of gravel.
        Joe Kuiper of 10641 Paw Paw Lake Drive said he has been a property owner in the area
for 33 years. When he bought the land, Verlyn Saunders told him that mining would never be a
problem because Texas Township did not permit it. It sounds to him as if they crept into Texas
Township. He would think people would wonder why they are here and make them restore the
land they mined without a permit. He heard them say the neighbors won’t hear noise.
However, he lives almost a mile from the existing pits and at 7 a.m. he hears a constant rumble
and beeping. He believes they are in Texas Township.
        Mr. Balkema stated that mining was done in Texas Township before 2000. The plant is
in Prairie Ronde Township. The plant and the mining that has been done during the last 6 years
are on the south side of Paw Paw Lake Drive. They haven’t mined in Texas Township since at
least 2000.
        Mr. Polderman said that the conveyor line goes under TU Avenue in Prairie Ronde
Township. Why are we expanding in another section? We know they have an enormous
amount of land south and east of here.
        Attorney Thomsen explained the history of the amendments to the Texas Township
Zoning Ordinance, to add mining as a special exception use in the agriculture zoning district.
There were public hearings conducted, and some of the people present at this meeting were
present at those hearings. The ordinance was amended in 2003. The law of the state of
Michigan holds that local government cannot limit extraction of natural resources to areas
designated for industrial use. The extraction must occur where the natural resources are
located, but local government may impose reasonable regulations and the applicant may be
required to show that no very serious consequences will result from the extraction.
        Mr. Polderman said that property values are threatened by this proposal. The value of
property is extremely important. It will reduce the value of his property forever.

                        REGULAR MEETING HELD MARCH 25, 2008

         Roy Cool of 10966 Paw Paw Lake Drive asked about the setbacks. Mr. Wicklund
explained that the berms would be located within the required setbacks. The berms provide
screening to reduce the impact upon neighboring property.
         A resident of 10741 Paw Paw Lake Drive said she has been there for 8 ½ years, and put
on a screened porch. Now, she gets to listen to “beep, beep, beep” all the time. She is glad to
hear the information about the endangered species. She is concerned about the drinking water.
If you lived where she lives, would you want this?
         Craig Runt Runk of 10988 Paw Paw Lake Drive can only say good things about
Aggregate Resources. The beeping sound comes from the Byholt operation (another gravel
mining operation in Prairie Ronde Township). The Aggregate Resources operation is only
about ¼ mile from his house. He hears the Aggregate Resources noise, but the Byholt
operation is closer.
         A neighbor said there is an extensive dust cloud around the operation. They can’t keep
their house open in the summer. He can’t imagine what it would be like if the operation were
200 feet from his house. He is concerned about noise, dust, and impact upon property values.
There are other options. Gravel is available in other areas where there would be less impact.
         A neighbor said that he is a water engineer at Pfizer. He well had a pH of 8.2 and high
iron content. In the past 2 to 3 years, the pH has dropped to about 7. During that time,
excavation in the area has expanded. Mr. Beagle said that there could be many factors that
might have caused that, including low rainfall.
         Helen Esman of 10773 Paw Paw Lake Drive owns 63 1.5 acres. She asked how tall the
berms would be. They would be a minimum of 10 feet, and no mining would occur in the berms.
She feels very badly about this proposal.
         An unidentified person said that if this as approved, they will almost be surrounded by
gravel pits: Byholt, American Aggregate, and Aggregate Resources.
         Mr. Polderman asked how much land the company owns. Mr. Balkema said he can’t tell
how much. They own a vast chunk of property in Prairie Ronde Township. There is about 2.5
million tons of product in this property. They have owned the land for about 20 years. They
want to mine it. Then, the plan will sit around for about 20 more years.
         Marion Kuiper asked about the restoration plan. Mr. Beagle said they have to provide a
restoration plan. They have submitted a plan for housing that conforms to all the requirements
of the zoning ordinance. The land would be contoured, and they might put in a pond. It would
not just be a hole in the ground. The current elevation on the property is 950 to 980 feet above
sea level. They will excavate to about 940 feet. This is not a 60-foot deep pit. Another option
would be to contour the land, replace the topsoil, and farm it.
         Jack Bradke of 10102 S. 2nd street asked who is going to stop trucks from going down
the streets in Texas Township?
         Mr. Beagle said that these are independent contractors, and are hard to control. A
citizen said that more trucks in the area come from the Byholt operation than from Balkema’s.
Someone asked who would police the truckers. Mr. Beagle said the applicant has had a good
relationship with the truckers.
         Greg Kuthe of 10816 Paw Paw Lake Drive said that only time will tell the outcome of this
proposal. As homeowners, we have very limited control over this. The Township also has
limited control. He would challenge the homeowners to exert more effort and energy to get
Byholt to be as conscientious to neighbors as Balkemas. Byholt sometimes starts at 6 a.m. and
operates until 9 p.m. and on Saturday afternoons. Also, those who live on the south side of
Paw Paw Lake Drive probably own land in Prairie Ronde Township, and therefore should
contact that Township’s officials.
         Jeffrey Cripe said that the impact on natural resources is a bigger issue. The Southwest
Michigan Planning Commission is working on a study of the Paw Paw River.

                        REGULAR MEETING HELD MARCH 25, 2008

       An unidentified person asked whether his property taxes will go down if this operation
begins. Mr. Rothe replied that the Planning Commission has no connection with property taxes.
       Mr. Polderman asked whether there would be any way to reverse impacts on the water if
the plant expands. No one knew an answer to that question.
       Joann Croner of 10650 S. 2nd Street said she has lived there for 15 years. The road was
in bad shape and the county fixed the potholes but all the work was undone by trucks. That is
an expense for the Township.
       The public hearing was closed at 8:30 p.m.

        Mr. Derby said that he would like more information from the applicant on the
environmental impact. There definitely needs to be investigation of that. Mr. Weurding said he
would like to see the applicant provide more information responding to those issues.
        Mr. Loeks asked whether there is going to be a pond on the property. Mr. Beagle said
ponds are proposed as part of restoration. Mr. Bosch asked whether they propose a lining?
No, said Mr. Beagle. They would lower the elevation to ground water level, and expose it.
        Someone commented that Balkemas stopped mining in Texas Township after the
Township provided aerial photos showing they were mining without permission.
        Mr. Bosch commented that he agrees the ordinance must be adhered to, and the impact
on the environment must be considered. He suggests tabling the application until the applicant
provides information to respond to the issues raised at this hearing and in Mr. Wicklund’s report.
        Mr. Derby said he sees lots of far-reaching impacts. He wants everybody to know he
has heard their concerns. Mr. Weurding noted that the public is getting its money’s worth from
the township’s planner. His concerns were the same as those stated at the hearing.
        Mr. Wicklund commented that if the application is approved, conditions may be imposed
as listed in the ordinance and additional conditions may also be imposed if they are related to a
legitimate government concern and advance that interest. If the Planning Commission is
considering denial of the application, they have to be able to show that conditions cannot be
imposed that would mitigate the problems the use would cause. Dust and noise are direct
impacts to address. Screening is typically required as a condition to address those matters. It
is for the Planning Commission to decide what form of screening to require. Berming and
landscaping are typically considered.
        Mr. Wicklund asked whether attorney Thomsen has an opinion on additional opportunity
for public comment. Attorney Thomsen replied that given the interest in additional information
from the applicant, she recommends that the public be given additional opportunity to comment
at a continuation of the public hearing. She suggested that interested persons may contact the
Township to find out whether this matter will be on the agenda for additional consideration at the
April or subsequent meetings. Anyone may request a copy of the agenda for a meeting.
Township Clerk Linda Kerr said she will make available paper and pen for anyone interested to
request a copy of the agenda. Attorney Thomsen also said that if this matter will NOT be
considered at a particular meeting that should be shown on the agenda, so people know
whether to attend. Attorney Thomsen did not recommend another public hearing be set at this
time, but that at meetings to consider additional information, the public should be permitted
additional comments and questions.
        Mr. Bosch then moved to table this matter to provide the applicant to submit additional
information to respond to the concerns expressed by the Township Planner in his report and by
Mr. Derby and Mr. Weurding and those present. Mr. Rothe supported the motion, and it
carried, unanimously.

       6.      Text Amendments

                        REGULAR MEETING HELD MARCH 25, 2008

         The public hearing on these amendments was held in February, and in response to a
request by the Planning Commission, attorney Thomsen had prepared revisions, which were
         Members suggested that in Sec. 36-628, the word “licensed” be changed to “designed”
in the definition of Recreational Vehicle.
         Mr. Derby is concerned about the 50-decibel limit for wind generators. He believes that
is too loud. Mr. Bosch commented that 0 zero is hard t to achieve. Mr. Wicklund commented
that 50 decibels are generally compared to road noise. In Pavilion Township, they set the limit
at 40 decibels. Impact on one’s hearing is an issue at 85 decibels or above. Whether these
things will be economically feasible in this area is questionable. Attorney Thomsen commented
that the Township may impose regulations, but the regulations must be reasonable.
         After additional discussion, the Planning Commission directed the Township Attorney to
pass on these changes to the Township Board with the single change noted.

       6, 7, 8. Comments and Adjournment.
       There were no additional comments, and the meeting was adjourned at about 9:15 p.m.

                                                           Respectfully submitted,

                                                           Michael Mair
                                                           Planning Commission secretary

       Date minutes prepared:       April 2, 2008
       Date minutes approved:       April 22, 2008 as amended


To top