By Mike Kruzman /

A grassroots group is continuing its push to keep a proposed asphalt plant out of Tyrone Township.

Residents for Community Preservation has grown from being an online awareness group to one that has gathered together stakeholders and experts in several environmental fields to oppose the project. The group has environmental consultants in the asphalt industry, health and safety regulation experts, a toxicologist, and those with a background in environmental law among their ranks.

At stake, is the future of 124 acres north of Center Road and west of Old US-23 in Tyrone Township. Applicant John Sawyer of Capital Asphalt is supporting a rezoning of the two parcels from farming residential to M2, Heavy Industrial. The rezoning request is by the land’s current owner, Dr. Steven Newman from Southfield.

Organizer Sara Dollman-Jersey of the community protest group cautions residents that approving the rezoning opens up the land even more unwanted projects. She said the asphalt plant is only proposed for 30 acres, and if the rezoning is approved, other heavy industrial uses like oil and gas operations or chemical plants could be built there.

Dollman-Jersey said they’re curious why the applicant is seeking heavy industrial zoning when the project could be done in light industrial or through planned industrial research office space with a special land use permit. She also noted there are already 4 asphalt plants operating within 30 miles, with none of them working near full capacity.

The group has been very vocal at township meetings the past couple of months in their opposition. Dollman-Jersey said they were encouraged that the township hired an independent planning firm to give the proposal a review. Carlisle Wortman’s review states there are missing components to the proposal and recommends either a denial or postponement. That report could draw discussion during the Planning Commission’s next meeting, April 13th, to be held over Zoom.

The Residents, meanwhile, aren’t taking any chances and are fundraising to help with legal fees and environmental studies. Dollman-Jersey recognized that this project could go several different ways and that hiring an attorney who understands this project, especially in these early stages, is important.

To hear more from Dollman-Jersey, tune in to WHMI’s Viewpoint this Sunday at 8:30am.

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