PORTAGE TOWNSHIP - A consent agreement between Portage Township and Valley View Quarry has been signed and is on its way to a judge, Portage Township Supervisor Bruce Petersen said at a board meeting Monday night.
Petersen said he spoke with the township's attorneys Monday morning and received a notice from Nick Daavettila at about 2 p.m. that a signed copy of the consent agreement was on his desk. At about 2:45 p.m., Petersen signed the agreement.
"It's been signed, and as far as I know, it's been signed by both parties," he said. "It then goes to (Gogebic County Circuit Court) Judge (Roy) Gotham for his perusal."
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Portage Township Supervisor Bruce Petersen speaks at Monday’s township board meeting. Petersen announced at the meeting he had signed a consent agreement in the township’s suit with Moyle, Inc. earlier that day.
It is not yet known when Gotham might make a decision on the agreement, Petersen said.
In a June Daily Mining Gazette article, Petersen said the agreement includes things such as hours of operation, noise and dust control and remediation for when the pit closes.
Petersen said his impression was that the document is a public document, but that he wasn't sure.
Nearby property owners Vic and Emily Betterly and Kevin Grzelak sued quarry owner Moyle, Inc. in 2011, claiming the quarry was operating illegally in the rural-residential area.
They unsuccessfully sought an injunction against the consent agreement earlier this year, saying they had not been involved. Gotham ruled the motion was premature. They still have a suit in the Michigan Court of Appeals seeking damages.
Steve Pence, their attorney, came to Monday's meeting before he had known Petersen signed the agreement in an attempt to convince Petersen not to sign. With that possibility out of the way, he lamented what he considered the board's caving to intimidation.
He asked the board why there had been no public hearing to determine if the mining operation had "serious consequences," as ordered by Gotham last August. The standard is one instituted by a bill written by State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and State Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, passed after the original court ruling against the Moyles that rolled back restrictions on where mining operations could be located.
"The people from Valley View Quarry, the bill they asked to be passed, had so little confidence in this bill that the Legislature gave them, that ... for reasons known only to the Lansing lawyer on your side, they negotiated a way around the bill that they asked to be passed," Pence said. "And nowhere during this time period were my clients invited to the table."
Pence said after a brief period of standing up against Moyle, the board had reversed course.
"You've put good citizens, honest citizens - you've put your master zoning and planning into jeopardy," he said.
Sally Santeford of Houghton opposed the secrecy with which negotiations had been carried out, both by previous Supervisor Bill Bingham's initial talks with Moyle without the board's knowledge and going up to the current situation, where the township's Lansing attorney has restricted the release of information.
"One is left to wonder why, and what happened to the consent of the governed?" she said. "I find it incomprehensible that not only have the township residents been kept totally in the dark, but even the board members have not had any part in what was going on in the negotiations. It is my understanding that the board members were not even allowed access to the consent agreement, which I understand is about 17 pages long, until a closed-session video conference in June, when they were required to vote on its acceptance. No pressure there."
By contrast, she said, the Moyles have been kept up to date and been involved, presumably giving them an advantage in the settlement.
Andy Moyle, Moyle Companies president of real estate and development, said the quarry was consistent with past practices in the area, pointing to past mines and a rockpile that had been across the road from the Betterly's house.
"This is nothing really new," he said. 'We're just going back to the way the law was."
Moyle said everything in the agreement had been discussed at a mediation session last October.
"I think they're going to be very happy with this agreement," he said.