CORUNNA — An Ohio-based trucking company that works closely with Crest Marine is one step closer to building a cold storage/loading facility in Bennington Township.
On Monday, the Shiawassee County Economic and Physical Development Committee advanced a rezoning request for property at the corner of M-52 and Tyrell Road — about halfway between Grand River Road and I-69 — to the county board of commissioner’s Committee of the Whole meeting set for Wednesday.
The rezoning request, by Custom Transporters, was moved forward despite concerns expressed by a Bennington Township official and three residents who live near the 1.5-acre site about increased traffic and changing the established A-2, agricultural production/rural residential zoning to M-1, light industrial.
“I do understand the concerns, but in reality, development wants to be on our state highways or I-69,” said Justin Horvath, president/CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Developmnet Partnership, who is asssisting Custom Transporters with the rezoning.
“We’re excited about this: We’re bringing a brand-new company from out of state and also supporting a major industrial company, Crest Marine.”
Custom Transporters owner Justin Gardiner, who came to Monday’s meeting, said his company plans to construct a 4,000-square-foot building and parking lot on the land, which has sat vacant and unused for many years.
He explained that his company plans to pick up pontoons from Crest Marine, which is also located on M-52, load them onto trucks at the new site and transport them to boat dealers or other destinations.
There will be no manufacturing at the site and no regular staff, Gardiner said. His company has agreed in writing that if it sells the land, it will be sold to a similar company. In addition, Custom Transporters has agreed to noise and lighting restrictions, and will install a fence around the property.
The county planning commission recently recommended approving the rezoning to the county board of commissioners, which will make the final decision, possibly at its regular meeting Thursday.
The rezoning request was filed initially with Bennington Township, whose board recommended against it. Bennington Township land use planning is handled at the county level.
Township Treasurer Matt Dutcher told committee members Monday that the township’s rejection was based on the fact that the rezoning doesn’t meet the requirements of the local master planning and zoning map.
Dutcher also noted that the township can’t provide water and sewer service to the property. Gardiner said the facility only needs electricity.
“We have stood behind our master planning for 10 years,” Dutcher said. “But most everything that is applied for, it gets approved by the county — that’s been our experience.”
“If we’re going to do anything, the highway is where it should be, even if the master plan doesn’t allow it,” commissioner Gary Holzhausen said.
“What’s the point of a master plan, then?” Dutcher asked.
“It’s not written in gold,” Holzhausen said.
There are no options for Custom Transporters other than a rezoning, county planner Pete Preston said. A special land use permit, for example, isn’t allowed with agricultural zoning, he said. In response to a question from commissioner Cindy Garber, he said a variance wouldn’t work either.
Craig Killian, who lives across the street from the property, said he is concerned about increased traffic. He said a number of vehicle crashes have taken place at the intersection of Tyrell and M-52.
“This would take a bad situation and make it worse,” Killian said.
Resident William Newman, who lives next door to Killian, and resident Rene Toth, who lives two doors down, reiterated Killian’s concerns about increased traffic.
“Traffic is horrible,” Toth said. “We’ve had many deer-car accidents.”
Gardiner said his company, based near Akron, Ohio, transports goods for 12 companies but Crest Marine “is our bread and butter,” he said. “They have a monthly quota to hit.”
He said trucks will conduct loading operations only during regular business hours. He told commissioner Dan McMaster, in response to a question, that he looked at other properties, including one in Perry Township, but the Bennington Township site is ideal because of its proximity to Crest Marine.