To the editor:
Based on legal council advice, the elected officials of Charter Portage Township have chosen to refrain from comment during litigation involving Moyle Construction and Valley View Quarry. Recent comments made by Moyle Construction's President Thomas Helminen in the Aug. 3 edition of The Daily Mining Gazette require a response.
Following the township's successful litigation and the Circuit Court's express ruling that the quarry operation was indeed illegal, our representatives in Lansing saw fit to change the rules, effectively overruling the Michigan Supreme Court's decision in Kyser v. Kasson. In so doing, the legislators carved out an exception for mining interests and took away powers of all local governments to enforce the rules via zoning decisions that were established by the citizens within those localities.
Given the cost to the taxpayers of additional litigation and the uncertainty of the outcome under the new state guidelines, it was determined by the township board that a resolution in the form of a consent judgment would be in the best interests of the citizenry in Portage Township.
I was profoundly disappointed to read that the president of Moyle Construction, Thomas Helminen, placed the blame for the underfunding of Moyle's employee pension funds directly on Portage Township.
If the allegations made by former Moyle employees are determined to be true, then the funds taken from those workers' paychecks were based on decisions made at Moyle Construction. The township board will not be Moyle's scapegoat simply because the board stood up to enforce the laws its citizens enacted. Let us not forget that the quarry operation was determined to be illegal in a court of law, despite repeated claims by Moyle or their supporters that it has always been legal.
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Government, small or large, must not simply choose who shall be subject to enforcement of its laws, based upon who they are. Charter Portage Township was dutibound to enforce its zoning ordinances and did so. The citizens of the township can be assured that the current board will continue to do so and will enforce the negotiated terms of the consent judgment with Moyle with equal vigor.
Portage Township supervisor