Neighbors sue township over controversial gravel mine in Grass Lake

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GRASS LAKE, Mich. (WLNS) — Controversy is brewing in Jackson County as a group of neighbors in Grass Lake Township launch a lawsuit over a proposed gravel mine that they say hits too close to home.

The neighbors are trying to stop this gravel operation from becoming a reality, so they’re suing the township.

It’s a quiet rural area with homes and farm fields.

But signs up and down Norvell Road that oppose a gravel operation indicate that serenity could be under threat.

“People moved here for this,” said Richard Murphy, gesturing to the woods behind him. “Not a mining operation in a residential area.”

Last month, The Grass Lake Township Planning Commission approved a plan that allows gravel and sand to be mined on a sizable piece of property on Norvell Road, between the high school and Phal Road.

The plan also calls for building a subdivision on the site once mining is complete.

The group Friends of Grass Lake Township is speaking out against the mine.

Group president Richard Murphy says with homes and subdivisions close by neighbors have big concerns about noise, traffic, and pollution.

“The property value is the big thing. The study that we did came up with a $12.8 million negative impact on Grass Lake Township,” Murphy said.

The Dale Fisher Gallery and Eyry of the Eagle Reception Center is a stones throw away from the proposed mine.

“They’ve had 10 people decline to have their weddings here, just since this mining operation went into effect, which is a $35,000 loss to this business,” Murphy said.

The week, Friends of Grass Lake Township launched a lawsuit against the township.

“Our group wants this turned over. I think the court is going to make a more unbiased opinion,” Murphy said.

The township declined an on-camera interview but sent a statement that said they stand by planning commission’s decision and will defend it in court.

The township also says this isn’t a done deal yet because they still haven’t worked out final details with the developers on things like fencing and operating times.

The developers didn’t return messages for comment.

Murphy says neighbors feel like township government is not listening to them.

“When you have 300 people show up at a meeting and 99 percent of them are dead set against this thing and they go ahead and pass it anyway, there’s something wrong,” Murphy said.

The group is now waiting for a court hearing to be scheduled.

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