By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – The Planning Commission tabled Marathon’s request for material storage and parking at the property southwest of Prospect and Greenfield, during an October and November 2018 renovation shutdown, pending more information.
The Mannik Smith Group, an oil and gas infrastructure engineering firm, said Marathon would purchase a parking lot and the driving range land to create a material storage area during the planned October and November 2018 renovation shutdown, providing temporary use for a parking lot and laydown area — for material storage — is granted by the commission.
Jim Hamel of Building Department said Marathon is looking at multiple nearby locations to handle the influx of materials and manpower during the planned shutdown.
Engineer David Ryzyi of the Mannik Smith Group said Marathon’s renovations are much larger than anything they have done in the past.
“There are about 3,000 workers that they have to bring in to work during this six-week time period,” Ryzyi said. “We are trying to provide parking in multiple places for them. This property became available for purchase, and Marathon chose to act on it and purchase the property.”
Ryzyi said Marathon would use it for temporary parking for six weeks in October and November 2018, and would not use it for parking after that time period unless another project emerged, for which specific use approval would be granted or denied by the commission.
“If we couldn’t get approval on it, I don’t think (Marathon) is going to move forward with the purchase,” Ryzyi said. “The plan is to use it primarily for parking contractors’ cars.
“They would also like to have it available for piping that they have, to lay down until it is needed. They don’t want to wait for delivery. They want everything here at the shutdown start, all of the materials that they are going to install in the plant, stored on site.”
Ryzyi said because the parking lot is the farthest from the plant, it will likely be used the least for material storage, but they are requesting permission for both material storage and parking.
Marathon logistics lead Chris Tricoff said Marathon is using its own warehouses and leasing warehouse space for much of its storage needs, but they need outside storage permission for large items that won’t fit into a warehouse – structural steel and fabricated piping components.
Tricoff said 4,300 extra people, split into two shifts, will be on site during the six-week project period to get the work done as quickly as possible. Shuttles would be used to get workers to the work site.
Ryzyi said the entrances and exits to the parking lot would be off Prospect.
City Attorney Lawrence Coogan expressed concern that Prospect was not designed to accommodate heavy equipment traffic, and he is concerned traffic might back up onto Greenfield while waiting to enter the parking lot.
Ryzyi said there would be some trucks going in and out for material transfer.
“I know that it is posted ‘no trucks’ over there,” Ryzyi said. “We don’t want to cause a problem, damage the road. And if that was a concern, we could certainly bond the road, and then at the end of six weeks, if there was any damage to the road, we would take responsibility for it, and repair any damage that was done.”
Ryzyi said they were planning to pave about 50 feet of the driveway into the property, and then strip the topsoil and put in concrete, which he said should prevent gravel or mud from making its way onto Prospect.
Councilman Carl Louvet asked what will be done to insure residents don’t have to deal with noise, dust and other disturbances.
Tricoff said Marathon takes dust control seriously, both for the neighborhood and their own employees. He said they are only staffed to take deliveries from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Louvet said he is concerned about people from the parking lot following Prospect through the subdivision instead of exiting to Greenfield.
“Prospect is not only an emergency through way for our fire department that is on the east side of Dearborn, there is also three school-age bus stops on that road,” Louvet said. “Also, we don’t let the citizens of Melvindale park on grass or gravel, so obviously a variance is needed.”
Prospect resident Anne Jones said there can’t be an entrance to the parking lot off Prospect because police vehicles use the route heavily to move across town quickly, and that is why the street is 30 feet wide.
“The police use that street to go down really fast,” Jones said. “You need to talk to the police. I have been there since 1973. What is going to happen if you have a lot of people going in and out, and the policemen have to use that? You can’t take that away from them.”
Nearby condominium residents expressed concern about dust, noise, and an eyesore view from their second floor balconies, as well as declining property values.
Diana Gardner said she lives in a upper unit, and she has a “beautiful” view of the driving range.
“When I moved to Melvindale, I was greatly impressed,” she said. “It’s so beautiful here. I am totally opposed to a parking lot, be it short-term or long-term. I do not want the noise. I want peace and quiet. I do not want an eyesore.”
Condominium owner Carlos Lopez said he understands Marathon’s dilemma, but he values the beautiful view of the driving range from his home.
“It’s a beautiful area for me,” he said. “It brings tranquility to my life. I am invested in this community, and I am invested in being here, but I also know I am looking for a quality of life, and I do not want this craziness. This is totally unacceptable.”
Commissioners expressed concerns about excavation of the topsoil to lay down gravel, since it covers a contaminated site that has precluded other development.
Commissioner Michael Haftel asked Mannik Smith and Marathon to determine whether durable plastic grid work could be used atop the driving range for the temporary parking area instead of gravel, citing preservation of the green space and dust prevention. He said he has seen successful application of plastic grid work for ground cover at military bases.
Water permeable plastic grids can help maintain soil stability, provide an alternative to paved or gravel surfaces, and can allow vehicle access without destroying grass.
“At Selfridge (Air National Guard Base), we had to use that because they wouldn’t let us use gravel anymore, because of dust,” Haftel said. “This is zero dust, and it just comes up and loads on the trailer.
“A grid system might just be the solution here, because then to return it back to a greenway would be probably pretty straightforward for you. And if you use the berm like you are planning to do, and planting some trees, by the time you are done and pull out of there, it will look kind of nice.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)