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Flint, MI– Environmental activists have teamed up with the Flint City Council to continue fighting against the development of an asphalt plant across the street from a Flint residential area.
On Nov. 15, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy approved an air permit for a proposed Ajax Materials Corp. hot mix asphalt plant in spite of opposition from residents, activists, and the city council.
Later that day, the Flint City Council voted to “do all things necessary” to send a letter reaffirming their opposition to the plant. They also formed an ad hoc committee consisting of two council members to work with environmental activists to further fight this development.
These actions came at the request of some of the same activists who have been protesting the plant since August.
“The fight isn’t over,” said Dr. Mona Munroe-Younis, the executive director of the Environmental Transformation Movement of Flint, during the council meeting Nov. 15.
Younis told the council that activists were working together with legal teams and other groups to take action, but said there were things that the council could do to help.
Although the plant is not technically in Flint, the city is an “interested party” because of how close by 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.
On Aug. 10, the council unanimously voted to send EGLE objections from the city administration, as well as the council and public speakers, to the development of this plant on the grounds of public health, safety, and property values.
“The Mayor and the City Councilmembers stand with the residents of Flint to Fulfill its pledge in accordance with the City of Flint Declaration of Rights to assure in pertinent part residents and businesses a clean and safe environment, with clean air and a sanitary city,” the resolution read.
Younis thanked the mayor and the council for submitting their objections to the plant, but said she wants them to do that again.
“So one of the things that we want you to consider is to send a reaffirmation to the EPA, standing against the permit,” Younis said. “So you’ve already done that for EGLE, and we would love to see a reaffirmation against the permit to EPA, to the governor, and to the media as well.”
Anthony Paciorek, a community organizer with Michigan United, also urged the council to send another letter.
“I’m just asking you guys again, city council, please reaffirm your commitment and support to the citizens of Flint who are working to stop Ajax asphalt,” he said. “You guys sent out a letter before, it’s not that hard to sign one again.”
Third ward Councilman Quincy Murphy made the motion to do all things necessary to put forth a resolution to send this reaffirmation of their opposition. The council unanimously voted in support.
Younis also requested the council push EGLE to do a “cumulative impact analysis.”
“So EGLE could pause…and say we need to have all of the information before we can make an educated decision on this permit,” she said. “So what we would love to see from the city council is to continue to press for that.”
She said she would also like the council to try to get information about the temporary Ajax facility that recently went up at Buick City.
Council President Eric Mays suggested the council form an ad hoc committee to work with Younis and other activists to take further action against Ajax, and accomplish the things she asked for.
Murphy and Council Vice President Allie Herkenroder volunteered to be part of the committee.
“We’ve heard your cry…I think we’re ready to get involved and see what we might can do for this community,” Mays said.