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      Gravel pit proposed again

      A gravel pit could soon be constructed in Marquette County.

      The Kona Ridge Mining Company wants to extract and crush gravel from their 120-acre site off County Road 510, about one mile north of Midway Drive. The Negaunee Township Planning Commission will review their plan next Tuesday.

      The company last proposed the gravel pit back in 2010. Since then, a new law in Michigan has taken away power from municipalities, like Negaunee Township, when it comes to extracting natural resources.

      Michigan House Bill No. 4746 was introduced by Rep. Matt Huuki (R-Atlantic Mine) and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on July 20, 2011. It said municipalities can't pass an ordinance prohibiting mineral extraction unless "very serious consequences" would result from the process.

      Earlier this year, Negaunee Township enacted new policies on mineral extraction. The new regulations said no extraction activity can occur within 1,000 feet of any dwelling.

      The proposal that CR 510 resident JoAnn Olivier received said that Kona Ridge plans to build part of their gravel pit only 450 feet away from her property line. She hopes their permit is denied.

      "I know that I am speaking for hundreds of people," said Olivier. "This has come up before, and the township hall is packed with people."

      The president of Kona Ridge, Roger Crimmins, expects his company's plan will pass.

      "We applied for the permit, followed all the procedures, and we believe the planning commission will approve our request," said Crimmins.

      Olivier expects crushing equipment at the pit would be heard up to three miles away. There could be more noise if rock on the site has to be removed.

      "The question was posed to them: will they be blasting? They never confirmed nor denied it, but that is a concern, that they will be blasting right in the middle of a residential area, where our homes are," she said.

      An increase in truck traffic and congestion on the road also worries Olivier.

      "The road is two lanes, it's in terrible shape, it's full of potholes," she said.

      Olivier said because of the variances in the plan, her property values will decrease 30 to 50 percent. Other property owners in the area expect their values to drop, too, because of the pit.

      "A study has been done in Negaunee Township, and up to 83 percent of Negaunee Township has the exact same kind of gravel, so we believe there must be another location that's not in the middle of a residential area where they can extract what they need," Olivier said.

      On Tuesday night at 6 p.m., the Negaunee Township Planning Commission will meet at the Township Hall to do a site plan review for the gravel pit operation. If it is approved, the plan would then go to the township Zoning Board of Appeals.

      There will be time for public comment on Tuesday. Olivier and many of her neighbors plan to attend.