‘Lesser of two evils’
By SUE SUCHYTA
For the Sunday Times Newspapers
Photo by Sue Suchyta
Melvindale Mayor Stacy Bazman (right) addresses Planning Commissioner Michael Kollmorgen (left), City Attorney Lawrence Coogan, and Commissioners Craig Janofski and Robert MacVicar about Marathon's proposed permanent parking lot on the site of the current driving range at Greenfield and Prospect.
MELVINDALE – After rejecting a temporary parking lot proposal Jan. 11, the city's Planning Commission approved Marathon's zoning compliant proposal for a permanent parking lot March 8, at the current driving range site.
Local Marathon General Manager David Roland said the property, at Greenfield and Prospect, would be used for contractor parking during a planned Marathon shutdown September and October 2018, and would be used about every six years for future planned maintenance outages.
The original proposal for a temporary lot was not compliant with the city's M1 light manufacturing zoning. The new proposal addresses past concerns by providing a permanent asphalt parking lot, permanent lighting, no outside storage, and an entrance and exit off Greenfield instead of Prospect.
An 11-foot-high berm, with evergreen trees, will screen the parking lot from the second story site line of nearby condominiums. A detention pond would be constructed for parking lot water runoff, per state of Michigan guidelines.
The asphalt parking lot would provide a cap over the soil contamination on the site, which was once used as a chemical dump.
David Ryzyi, director and professional engineer with the Mannik Smith Group, said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said that it does not want any soil, which is contaminated, removed from the site.
Roland said an environmental assessment revealed a significant amount of contamination at the site, including arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, selenium, silver, zinc and mercury.
“This lot is not capped,” Roland said. “There was a lot of waste that was dumped into this property. We are going to cap this with an asphalt cap, and we are putting in a detention pond that is going to be lined so we will be able to catch the runoff water and direct it away from the property.”
He said Marathon's goal was to improve the site.
“If I had kids, and I was living next to this property, I would much rather have this,” Roland said, “because my kids are not going to be exposed to these chemicals.”
Mayor Stacy Bazman said the owner of the golf course wants to sell the property.
“I know that it is not popular, and the residents (have) concerns on Prospect, but it is zoned a particular way,” Bazman said. “I think a parking lot would be a lot less intrusive than maybe a truck stop or some other company coming in there, so it is something we do have to think about.”
City Attorney Lawrence Coogan said the property is zoned M1 light industrial, and the property owner may sell it to a buyer that complies with that zoning.
Residents expressed concerns about the increased traffic on Prospect when the lot is in use, with up to 1,000 vehicles entering and exiting at shift change, and with the southbound I-75 shutdown making the situation worse.
Resident Sandy Ortiz said she was concerned about children being put at risk from the inevitable increase in traffic along Prospect.
“When I think of 900 cars twice a day coming and going, we've got children walking home from school, we've got kids playing,” Ortiz said. “Everybody's in a hurry, on their phones, and we see children almost getting hit. It really would affect our community.”
Resident Linda Heavenridge, who lives in the nearby condominiums, said she is concerned about property values going down. She said when she moved here from Dearborn, she was happy to be next to a driving range.
“It was like being in the country,” Heavenridge said. “This is not the country any more. I would love to show you the pollution that is on my patio and on my screens. It's black, and all we can have is more of it.”
She said the city would be driving out residents who pay taxes if they allow the parking lot.
“If the city of Melvindale approves this, I will do everything in my power to see that this does not happen,” Heavenridge said.
Resident Carl Bentz said he was concerned about both Marathon's impact on property values and the impact of traffic on the safety of neighborhood children.
“Every time they add, our property value goes straight down,” Bentz said. “We're worried about the future, and the future is our children. I'd rather have nothing there than have something that is going to kill our children in the future, and that's what's going to happen. There's a lot of children in Melvindale, and the traffic is going to be unbelievable.”