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Great Lakes Article:

Township, company agree on deal to permit sand mining
The Associated Press

CASCO TOWNSHIP (AP) -- A judge will be asked to approve a compromise sand-mining deal that would end more than two years of legal wrangling between Casco Township and TechniSand Inc.

The township's Board of Trustees voted 4-1 Monday to approve the out-of-court settlement, which will be forwarded to Allegan County Circuit Judge George Corsiglia.

The Bridgman-based company wants to mine in a critical dune area that contains several million tons of sand. The privately owned site in the Allegan County township is about a mile inland from Lake Michigan, near South Haven.

Opponents have argued that mining in the area would destroy a unique, irreplaceable and fragile natural resource. They have said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality violated the Michigan Environmental Protection Act by issuing TechniSand a sand-mining permit for the spot.

"This is the best deal we're going to get from TechniSand," township Supervisor Tom Jessup told The (St. Joseph) Herald-Palladium for a story published Tuesday. "Those who voted for me will probably vote me out because of this, but it doesn't bother me. What would bother me is if the township went broke (over the lawsuit)."

The case has cost the township nearly $300,000 in court-related expenses and public hearings while preventing the company from doing any mining at the site.

The company originally wanted to buy 293 acres of land at the site and remove 1 million tons of sand over a 15-year period. Under the settlement, it would be allowed to mine 200,000 tons of sand over 10 years from 103 acres.

TechniSand could not mine below the water table. It would also reimburse the township for its costs associated with administering and enforcing the agreement.

Once the operation ends, the company would have to return the property to its original agricultural use.

Jessup said he thinks the settlement addresses environmental concerns and issues of safety and truck traffic.

The trustees' vote followed a two-and-a-half-hour public hearing attended by about 75 people. Not everyone there agreed with Jessup.

"I'm offended the township would settle with TechniSand," said Kathy Steffler, who recently resigned from the Casco Township Planning Commission. "I think there's a good chance the court would settle in our favor."

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