Yesterday afternoon in the Michigan House of Representatives a three-bill package was introduced. House Bills 4526, 4527, and 4528.
Different year, a new legislative session but once again the aggregate industry is back pushing a deceptive narrative that in order to “save millions, fix more roads, support jobs and protect the environment” their one-sided bills eliminating all local authority must be taken up.
Which they will be. A hearing has already been scheduled for next week in the House Regulatory Reform Committee. The bills will be heard for testimony only on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in Room 519 of the House Office Building at 10:30 a.m.
HB 4527 – Amends Section 205 of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act adding language that as used in this section, “natural resources” does not include sand or gravel, and a zoning ordinance is subject to (a newly created) Part 639 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.
HB 4528 – Amends the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to create PART 639, sand and gravel mining.
HB 4526 – Amends the code of criminal procedure and sentencing guidelines adding violations for intentional false statement in a mining permit application or report.
The legislation seizes all local authority and allows a sand and gravel mine, crushing facility, or storage facility to operate anywhere in a community regardless of zoning. This undermines any ability of local officials to balance the needs of all property owners within their jurisdictional boundary. No local regulations would apply to the operational issues inherently local, including hours of operation, truck routes, noise, dust control, and fencing.
Under a to-be-created permitting and regulatory system within the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) all existing locally permitted sand and gravel operations would be moved to state oversight without any input from the local unit that originally approved and oversees the current mining permit.
While the industry touts the legislation as a compromise, local government and environmental groups were once again shut out from being at the table to negotiate and help draft meaningful legislation. The pro-industry bills put profits over people and
- Prohibits municipalities and affected residents or businesses from requesting any permit modifications, silencing the community from issues impacting their daily lives and livelihood, but allows EGLE to grant modifications requested by the mine operator.
- Allows 70-foot-high aggregate stockpiles just 50 feet from property lines—an obvious impact on neighboring property owners.
- Holds neighboring properties hostage for years by allowing mines to bank sites for up to a decade.
- Artificially limits required financial assurances at levels that do not provide for proper protections for amounts needed for land reclamation.
- Codifies operation hours for activities such as truck loading, blasting, and crushing to begin by at least 6 a.m. six days per week—and allows for hours beyond that time for state or county contracts.
- Limits local government and resident input to only being provided through EGLE public comment periods and removes any right of referendum by impacted residents.
- Prescribes noise levels required for worker safety hearing protection only and weighted over eight hours—with no considerations for the impact of noise on nearby homes, businesses, and schools.
- Vacates previous judicial and administration opinions related to all mining permit applications—including those previously submitted to a local unit of government.
Local governments support access to aggregate materials and under the current process are limited in when they can say no to a permit. Current law, enacted through Public Act 113 of 2011, states an ordinance may not prevent the extraction, by mining, of valuable natural resources from any property unless very serious consequences would result from the extraction of those natural resources. PA 113 also provided guidance on when a very serious consequence would result from the extraction giving these six specific factors:
- The relationship of extraction and associated activities with existing land uses.
- The impact on existing land uses in the vicinity of the property.
- The impact on property values in the vicinity of the property and along the proposed hauling route serving the property, based on credible evidence.
- The impact on pedestrian and traffic safety in the vicinity of the property and along the proposed hauling route serving the property.
- The impact on other identifiable health, safety, and welfare interests in the local unit of government.
- The overall public interest in the extraction of the specific natural resources on the property.
HB 4526, 4527, and 4528 eliminate the ability of local units of government to balance the needs, interests, and safety of their residents, businesses, and property owners.
Contact the members of the House Regulatory Reform Committee to share your opposition and ask them to stand with Michigan communities by not allowing these bills to move out of committee until all stakeholders are included and good public policy is before them. Contact and tell your state Representative too.
Regulatory Reform Committee Members
- *Rep. Tyrone Carter (Democrat) District-1
- **Rep. Tullio Liberati (Democrat) District-2
MAJORITY VICE CHAIR
- Rep. Mike Mueller (Republican) District-72
MINORITY VICE CHAIR
- **Rep. Cynthia Neeley (Democrat) District-70
- **Rep. Helena Scott (Democrat) District-7
- Rep. Stephanie A. Young (Democrat) District-16
- Rep. Kristian Grant (Democrat) District-82
- Rep. Mike McFall (Democrat) District-8
- **Rep. Will Snyder (Democrat) District-87
- Rep. Jimmie Wilson (Democrat) District-32
- **Rep. Graham Filler (Republican) District-93
- Rep. Pauline Wendzel (Republican) District-39
- Rep. Joseph Aragona (Republican) District-60
- Rep. Matt Bierlein (Republican) District-97
- Rep. Jerry Neyer (Republican) District-92
* bill sponsor
** bill cosponsor
Find your state Representative here.
In response to the bills being introduced the League participated in a joint press release with the Michigan Townships Association (MTA), Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), and SEMCOG in opposition to the bills. MTA also has a petition anyone concerned with this legislation can sign. Go here to sign the petition.
Jennifer Rigterink is the League’s assistant director of state and federal affairs handling economic development, land use, and municipal services issues. She can be reached at [email protected].