By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – Residents gathered on the steps of City Hall Aug. 2 to voice their opposition to a proposed zoning change for the former McLouth site from mixed use to industrial.
The site, owned by the Moroun family through Crown Enterprises, is currently being remediated on the Trenton portion of the McLouth site with federal Superfund money.
It is believed that Crown Enterprises wishes to build an intermodal shipping facility at the site, which has access to the Detroit River, rail lines and roadways.
The Rev. Jack Eggleston of Unity Lutheran Church in Southgate chaired the event, introducing the speakers, who included resident Kirsten Brockmiller and Wayne County Commission candidate Ryan Stewart.
Eggleston said that people are very concerned about the negative impact of the proposed zoning change on the community, as witnessed by those gathered.
Brockmiller, one of those concerned, and a fourth generation Trenton resident, said as much as industry supports the tax base, the city would not benefit from more industry within its borders.
“The new zoning proposal, if approved, would newly reindustrialize and heavily impact several miles of our invaluable fresh waterfront forever more,” she said.
Brockmiller said the Trenton Coastal Resiliency Master Plan, developed in 2016 and adopted by the City Council in 2017, strongly and professionally suggests that modern day research and data focusing on the overall health, quality of life and economic well-being of its residents and Trenton’s economy would benefit more from mixed use zoning, than it ever could from reintroducing new heavy industry.
“Mixed use zoning for the revitalization of the McLouth Steel property and waterfront would provide more diverse jobs and sustain far higher quality of life for residents, and higher local economic returns and property values for the city and our local residents,” Brockmiller said.
She said the Environmental Protection Agency Community Involvement Plan was prepared to inform, engage and support the community affected by the former McLouth site, and it is designed to provide effective and meaningful communication between the public and the EPA, and to consider the community’s concerns and provide answers to their questions as the site cleanup continues.
“The large number of local residents that were published with response to that overwhelming concern showed opposition to allowing any new industrial allowances for redeveloping the McLouth Steel property,” she said.
Brockmiller said a study of intermodal facilities, like the one Crown may seek to develop, were shown to benefit the nation and the state, but causes a decline within the immediate seven-mile radius of a natural port.
She also said the size of the intermodal facility bears no relationship to job creation.
“Large facilities can become very efficient at moving large volumes of freight using a very small workforce,” Brockmiller said. “Ports have weaker economic ties to their home location.”
She said noise pollution, light pollution and the health impact from diesel fumes and railways and road accidents increase.
“If you are already familiar with train traffic delays, if you are intimidated and concerned about hundreds of daily semi-trucks and multiple trains impacting your ability to travel swiftly and safely to hospitals or school or to provide for daily needs, if you own a home in Trenton, if you own a small business in Trenton, if you pay taxes that afford our roads and infrastructure maintenance and repair,” Brockmiller said, “and if you care at all about Trenton’s municipal and community reputation, our future ability to attract new and more homeowners, or more would-be investors, higher standard developers and future employers, you need to be concerned about the negative impact of industrial zoning for the McLouth Steel site.
She said residents will not get a second chance to stop the development or its expanding impact on Trenton’s way of life.
“I urge and plead with the city council to refuse the new and sweeping industrial zone proposal in its entirety and vote no now,” Brockmiller said.
Stewart said he was inspired by seeing so many residents assembled over the zoning issue.
“It’s not often that you see on the news that people can come together and agree,” he said.
Stewart said it was important to focus on the timeline with which Crown’s project has been pushed forward.
“What we are deciding will shape not only Trenton, but all of the Downriver environment for generations to come,” he said. “It is time for us to recognize that as a Downriver region, we are all in this together.”
For more information about the protesters’ platform, click here.