Sharon Twp Schedules Public Hearing for Proposed Gravel Mine
The battle over a 400-acre gravel mine in Sharon Twp has entered its second phase.
On Jan. 18, 2023, the Sharon Twp Planning Commission determined that the Stoneco Application for Special Land Use Approval for Extraction of Natural Resources - Demonstration of No Very Serious Consequences is complete. The commission will now begin its formal review of the application.
The Sharon Preservation Society is advocating against the gravel mine, stating in a recent update:
“Stoneco's application was approximately 850 pages, with many reports and pages and pages of data. Based on the data, Stoneco concludes its mine will NOT create any very serious consequences. This is not a surprise. Sharon Preservation Society believes Stoneco cannot make this claim based on the data in the application. We will be submitting our findings to the PC on or before the public hearing.”
As part of the process, the Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on Wed., Feb. 15, at 7 pm, to hear public input and concerns about the application. The hearing will be held at Sharon United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall.
In February 2021, Stoneco of Michigan submitted a special land use application to Sharon Twp for a gravel mine. The gravel pit is proposed for 400 acres of farmland purchased by Stoneco at 19024 Pleasant Lake Road, approximately one mile west of M52.
Opening a gravel mine in Sharon Twp is a three-step process:
First, the applicant requests a special land use permit and must prove there is a need for the materials it intends to mine.
After a year of public meetings and due diligence, the Sharon Twp Planning Commission’s opinion in March 2022 was that Stoneco failed to provide sufficient evidence for the need and recommended the township board reject Stoneco’s application. Stoneco responded by submitting a letter to the township board contradicting the PC’s reasoning for the rejection. Reexamining the information, in June 2022, the board found that Stoneco had established a “low to moderate need” for the aggregate materials on Pleasant Lake Road.
The process now proceeds to the second step. Stoneco must prove the mining operation will not result in very serious consequences.
Sharon Township is a predominately agricultural community located in southwest Washtenaw County, north of Manchester. In addition to farmland, the township’s topography is characterized by rolling hills, woodlands, and wetlands which serve as a groundwater recharge area for the county’s watershed. In the public meetings thus far, many of the township’s approximately 2,000 residents have already voiced their fears and opposition to the negative impact a gravel pit would have on their scenic, rural community.
If step two is successfully proven, the third step requires Stoneco to apply for a mining operation license.