Traverse City Record-Eagle


March 9, 2014

Judge sides with township in Kasson gravel case

TRAVERSE CITY — A local judge ruled against a landowner who challenged Kasson Township zoning rules because she wanted to mine gravel on her Leelanau County property.

Thirteenth Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power last week issued a decision that prohibits Kasson Township resident Edith Kyser from mining gravel on a parcel that abuts, but is outside Kasson Township’s five-square-mile gravel district.

Christopher Bzdok, a Traverse City-based attorney who represents Kyser, said he and his client “respectfully disagree” with the decision.

“This has been a very long road and after a week-long trial in 2006 the court found that mining gravel on her property would not hurt anybody,” Bzdok said. “Yet there seems to be no limit to the amount of money, and resources, and time the township is willing to commit to try to prevent her from doing that.”

Kyser in 2004 asked township officials to rezone her property to allow gravel mining. Officials denied the request, and years of legal wrangling ensued.Township officials spent nearly $245,000 on legal fees related to the case through January 2014, according to a records provided by township Clerk Traci Cruz.

The Michigan Supreme Court in 2010 ruled in favor of the township’s ability to enforce its zoning rules, but state lawmakers passed legislation in 2011 that threw that decision into limbo. The legislation said a person could challenge a zoning ordinance, like Kasson Township’s gravel district, as long as the challenge met certain requirements, notably a new requirement that there is either an owner-need or a market-need for the resource on the property.

Traverse City-based attorney Thomas Grier represents Kasson Township in the case. He said township officials argued gravel supplies in the area increased over the last six years because of less demand, as shown by lower tonnages of gravel that were withdrawn from the district than previously anticipated.

Grier said factual evidence and the “legal standard” in respect to the need requirement supported Power’s ruling.

The ruling is just what Kasson Township officials sought, Supervisor Fred Lanham said.

Bzdok said he and Kyser have not decided whether to appeal Power’s decision to the state Court of Appeals.

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