The Brighton Township board met recently and took up permit applications for three gravel mining companies.

The board approved both soil removal/extraction and fill permits for Natural Aggregates through September 30th, 2021 with some conditions set forth. For the fill permit, employees must continue to monitor and record incoming fill materials and the township must be made aware of any movement of material from American Aggregates to Natural Aggregates along a shared property line. The company must also continue working with Ashley Land Development toward an overall final end-use plan that was said to have been approved many years ago by the township. For the extraction permit, the company must continue working on relocation efforts for DTE power lines on Muir Road, which Township Planner Kelly Mathews noted has been on the docket for many years and they would like to see some progress on as it’s a big factor in the final end reclamation plan. Natural Aggregates must also continue working with the Livingston County Road Commission and neighboring gravel pits to maintain surrounding roadways, shoulders, spillways and ditch lines. It was further noted that Benzene levels spiked in a water monitoring well from the latest April report and depending on what the October sample brings, the township engineer may recommend more frequent testing.

Natural Aggregate’s General Manager Mark St. Charles attended the meeting and assured the board that they are monitoring Benzene levels for the well in question. St. Charles told the board that was the first hit they’ve ever seen in that particular well and didn’t know if it could have been a hiccup at the testing lab or perhaps something on someone’s glove so they’ll look at the next results. St. Charles said it surprised him because it’s not an area they’re mining or filling. He noted it’s an isolated well they put in back in 1990 and they will be looking at it. The township engineer clarified for the board that state requirements allow 5 parts per billion. He stated that 1ppb or above is deemed detectable and the April test was at 2ppb so it is still within the threshold of acceptable limits and they’re keeping an eye on it.

St. Charles told the board they’re estimating 4 to 7 more years of mining operations at the site and they continue to mine toward their end-use plan. The company will be relocating its scales office location to the southern portion of property to get it out of the mining area. St. Charles stated they are running out of room to mine so they have to move the scales office, and then that will be one of the last areas. Manager Brian Vick asked if it would be reasonable to assume that in two years when the company is back for permits, that the DTE poles will have been relocated so there are actual tangible steps toward the end-use plan. He said he felt like it would be a conversation with engineers during the next application process and wanted to make sure the applicants are working diligently toward complying with elements of their end use plan. St. Charles said “probably yes” based on conversations. He estimated it would be about a year and a half before they need take out Muir Road and relocate the DTE lines but they are working with DTE.

Meanwhile, a two-year extraction permit was approved for American Aggregates but separate fill and extraction permits for Ashley Land Development were denied. The board had held a closed session prior to the meeting to discuss a trial or settlement strategy related to litigation between the township and the company. A motion was made during the regular meeting to deny the permits until such time the applicant removes concrete from the site or the pending court litigation is resolved, whichever occurs first, and the board will reconsider the applications at that time. The motion to deny the permits carried unanimously. (JM)