Tony- and Emmy Award-winning actor Jeff Daniels, one of Chelsea's most recognizable and famous residents, joined about 500 of his neighbors Thursday in opposing a new sand and gravel mine operation in Lyndon Township.
Daniels won the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 2013 for his portrayal of the protagonist Will McAvoy on HBO’s hit series “The Newsroom,” but on Thursday, he was just another Washtenaw County resident when he approached the microphone to speak against the mining operation at a town hall meeting, The Ann Arbor News/MLive reports.
Before coming out against the application for special land-use and mining permits by McCoig Materials Inc. for operations that would occur at 18100 and 18200 M-52, Daniels said he he did some soul searching to think about how his father, who ran a successful lumber business for a number of years, might have handled the situation.
“... If it was right for the lumber company and right for the community, he’d go ahead,” Daniels said. “But if it was right for the company and it wasn’t necessarily right for everyone in the community, or if it would impact the community negatively, he would kill it.
“It wouldn’t get off of his desk.”
Daniels and several others spoke against mining on the land near the corner of M-52 and North Territorial that is owned by the Donald and Janet L. Cunningham Trust. The property was chosen by the ForEnergy LLC, a Lowell consulting company that has been communicating with Washtenaw County officials and area residents to move the plan forward on behalf of McCoig Materials..
“When I see the passion [citizens are showing] we want to show empathy toward that and work with people. We respect their views,” Tim Forrell, who owns the consulting company said.
“Believe it or not, we are going to do everything we can to work with them as best we can,” he said. “Unfortunately there is no perfect site for a sand and gravel operation. It just doesn’t exist.”
More than 200 residents came out on a snowy night in February to oppose the quarry operation on the land after it was identified as an ideal site because of its access to M-52.
Time doesn’t seem to have tempered the opposition and after more than three hours of comments Thursday, the Lyndon Township Planning Commission agreed to give the consulting company until April 11 to respond to questions, both from the public and township officials.
After one resident complained that email correspondence to the Planning Commission had bounced back, Chairman Kevin McLaughlin said the volume of correspondence on the issue has been so great that “we may have maxed out our township server.”
“We do seem to be receiving a lot of mail about this,” he said.
Opponents included residents who cited diminishing quality of life, plummeting property values and possible health issues if the operation is approved to University of Michigan experts in geology, law and environmental epidemiology.
“It seems to me like they must have whacked a hornet's nest because I had no idea we had so many experts living out here,” one of the speakers, Kathy Bradbury, said.
Gene Murphy, who owns property on Island Lake, said he and other landowners who, together, control about $10 million in real estate, had “a reasonable expectation of what Lyndon Township would be.”
“McCoig’s expectation of making a profit requires us property owners to give them millions from the investments we’ve made,” he said.
Some Chelsea residents raised questions about the effect heavy truck traffic – perhaps as many as 80 round trips a day – will have on M-52 if the operation is approved. Daniels said during his remarks that Stofer Hill, one of the highest points in Washtenaw County, would go under water over the course of 30 years if the gravel quarry operation is allowed.
“The last thing we need around here is another lake 30 years from now,” Daniels said during his remarks. “So that’s not much of a selling point.”
DISCUSS: Do you support the development of a new gravel and sand mining operation in the area? Tell us why or why not in the comments.