December 26, 2007 IMLAY TWP. — They can't claim victory yet, but the news is good for township officials fighting to keep developers from building an asphalt plant in the middle of residential property and farmland.
After years of wrangling, the lawsuit between paving magnate John Carlo and Imlay Twp. will return to Lapeer County Circuit Court and Judge Nick Holowka—the only court, so far, to side with Imlay Twp. In 2004, Holowka denied Carlo's claims that the township's zoning ordinances were exclusionary to heavy industrial land use.
"It's a good thing for us," Supervisor Steve Hoeksema said.
"It means we didn't lose. We didn't win, but only time will tell."
In a Dec. 7 ruling, the Michigan Supreme Court remanded the lawsuit initiated by Carlo's Trinity, L.L.C back to Lapeer County Circuit Court. The justices have instructed Holowka to again address whether the township's zoning ordinance is exclusionary, particularly as it related to accessibility to the township's only I-2 (industrial) land along the Graham Rd. corridor.
"In making this determination, the Lapeer Circuit Court shall consider whether there are available indirect routes that provide reasonably suitable access to the I-2 zoned property," the Supreme Court order said.
In 2000, the township denied a request by Earl Anspaugh to rezone his 90 acres at Newark and Summers roads from agriculture to industrial. Carlo had a purchase interest in the land for the purpose of building an asphalt plant there.
Anspaugh and Carlo then sued Imlay Twp. after a second request for rezoning of I-1 (light industrial) property was also denied.
Carlo and his lawyers have argued that the Graham Rd. property is not reasonably accessible to M-53 and I-69, a deliberate move to discourage industrial development.
In 2004, Holowka said the township had adequately revised their master plan to allow for more I-2 uses.
Once Holowka takes up the preceedings, both parties will again be allowed to submit additional evidence and testimony, something that was not possible before the Supreme Court.
Assistant Editor: Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.