Flint, MI– The fight against a proposed hot mix asphalt plant across the street from a Flint residential area will be taken to court following a recent Flint City Council vote. 

On Feb. 9, the council unanimously voted to authorize attorneys to appeal the state-issued permit allowing Ajax Materials Corp to move forward with construction.

Last year on Nov. 15, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy approved an air permit for the company despite opposition from residents, activists, and the city council.

Immediately following the permit approval, the council formed an ad hoc committee of Councilman Quincy Murphy and Councilwoman Allie Herkenroder to work with activists and lawyers to appeal the decision in circuit court.

Nayyirah Shariff, director of Flint Rising and a member of a coalition working to stop the asphalt plant, thanked the council during public comment for “elevating the fight to a legal fight.”

“We know that this is morally wrong. We know that we can’t have the north side of Flint continuing to be a sacrifice zone, and a dumping ground, and being thrown away and seen as disposable,” Shariff said. “So thank you all very much. And we look forward to actually having this moral fight being validated and for it to be a victory for people in Flint and a victory for the people in the north side of Flint. “

While the plant is not technically in Flint, the city is an “interested party” because of how close it is. 

The facility would be located at 5088 Energy Drive, which is zoned for industrial use by Genesee Township, but also borders the St. Francis Prayer Center and sits across the street from Flint’s River Park and Ridgecrest Village, two low-income housing complexes. 

Herkenroder said she was particularly opposed to the plant because of its proximity to housing on Flint’s north side. 

“This community has experienced tremendous environmental justice problems, and we need to do our part to be able to stop that,” she said. “And I’m thankful to be a part of this change to be able to make sure that we stop any more environmental justice problems from coming into this community.”

Murphy said dealing with this plant was one of his top priorities, even before he was elected, as the plant would affect residents in the third ward. 

“We don’t know what the end result is going to be,” he said. “But I just want the public to know that we’re doing whatever we can to try to look into the situation, see what’s going to be the end result of this.” 

The legal details of the appeal were discussed in closed session, but City Attorney William Kim affirmed that approving this resolution meant attorneys would appeal the permit in a court proceeding.

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...