Posted by The Huron Hub | Sept. 2, 2021 | 10:40 p.m. EST
Governor Gretchen Whitmer today declared a state of emergency for the City of Flat Rock and Wayne and Monroe counties, after an unknown odor was detected in the city’s sewer system.
“We are working closely with local officials and emergency crews to investigate the source of these fumes and protect the safety of residents in the area,” said Governor Whitmer. “My top priority is ensuring that every resource is available to the City of Flat Rock, Wayne County, and Monroe County to determine where the odor originated, so that we can clean up the affected area and prevent further harm. I’m grateful to the leadership in the City of Flat Rock, Wayne County, Monroe County, and all of the first responders who have been on the ground keeping people safe.”
By declaring a state of emergency, Governor Whitmer has made available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the designated area. The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) to coordinate state efforts above and beyond what MSP/EMHSD has already been doing in conjunction with local agencies.
“The Flat Rock community should be able to go to sleep tonight knowing that their homes and businesses remain safe, and that clean-up efforts are already underway,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. “Working with the EPA, state, county, and city leaders, we were able to mobilize immediately and take concrete steps to address this issue before it reached additional homes and put more of our neighbors at risk. As we rapidly begin clean-up efforts, I thank the EPA, Governor Whitmer, and our partners on the ground for working quickly to enact this state of emergency to get our community the resources they need now.”
On September 1, the City of Flat Rock declared a local state of emergency after discovering high levels of an unknown gas in the city sewer system and nearby homes. Hazmat teams have worked around the clock to evacuate impacted areas and to find the source of the fumes. Wayne County also declared a state of emergency and requested the governor’s declaration.
The declaration of a local state of emergency activates local emergency response and recovery plans. By requesting a governor’s declaration, the county has determined local resources are insufficient to address the situation and state assistance is required to protect the health, safety and property to lessen or avert the threat of a crisis.
After years of work on the issue and months of negotiations, House Bills 4523 and 4524, which would create a statewide fund to build bridges at the most dangerous rail crossings in Michigan, passed the Michigan House of Representatives today with overwhelming bipartisan support.
State Reps. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) and Phil Green(R-Millington), the primary bill sponsors, say this brings us one step closer to improving public safety, creating new economic opportunities, and solving some of our state’s most complex transportation issues once and for all.
“This is a huge victory not only for our Downriver community, but our entire state,” said Camilleri, who initially developed the statewide grade separation fund legislation back in 2017. “Fixing our train issue has been one of my top priorities for years, and the passage of these bills today brings us one step closer to solving one of our state’s most pressing transportation problems once and for all. This program will improve public safety, unlock new economic opportunities, and improve lives, and I am so grateful we have been able to work across the aisle to get this done for the people of Michigan.”
Based on a successful program in Indiana, these bills would create a dedicated fund within the Michigan Department of Transportation’s budget to build grade separations at priority crossings statewide.
“Across the state, rail grades have led to lengthy wait times and routing issues for local emergency services while trains move through crossings,” Green said. “This program will help alleviate those issues and the substantial cost of grade separation by providing grants that prioritize addressing those crossings.”
Among other key locations, Camilleri added that this fund could help build bridges at crossings in Huron Township and Trenton, which currently cause hours of delays for drivers and pose a serious public safety risk.
The Huron Township Board of Trustees voted to allow another warehouse to be built at the Pinnacle development area during Wednesday’s meeting.
The board voted in favor of changing a zoning ordinance amendment that banned further warehouse and truck distribution at the Pinnacle site. The zoning ordinance was created after Hillwood/Sterling Groups purchased the property and built two large Amazon facilities that are now nearly finished.
The intent of the original ordinance was to make sure the property did not see further warehouse and trucking development occur.
The board’s decision goes against the planning commission’s decision to vote down the zoning change last month in a unanimous 9-0 vote.
On Wednesday, Supervisor David Glaab, Trustee Angela Cady, Trustee Michael Glaab, and Clerk Jeremy Cady voted in favor of changing zoning to allow a Home Depot warehouse to be built on the property. Trustees John Chont, David Patterson, and Treasurer Colleen Lazere voted against changing the zoning ordinance.
During Wednesday’s nearly two-hour meeting, several residents approached the board during public comment and spoke out against having another warehouse built on the Pinnacle property.
The main concern among most residents is an increase in truck traffic that would come with adding more warehouses to the development area, and the impact it will have on local roads and overall lifestyle in the township.
Some residents expressed that they feel further development at the Pinnacle property would affect a peaceful and quiet lifestyle that comes with living in the township.
Others noted that it’s not fully know the impact of the current Amazon warehouses built on the property as they are not fully operational as of this time.
Developers of the property claim that only one truck per hour would be arriving at the facility daily. Members of the board in favor of the change, as well as developers, say that the decision is good for the township, because if it is voted down, other types of development, particularly manufacturing, could be built at the site, which they allege might bring more traffic to the area.
Board members in favor of the decision also noted that the township will be able to collect full taxes from the development, instead of possible tax abatements that could be provided to manufacturing developments constructed at the site.
Part of the deal to change the zoning would be for a new Sibley Road boulevard to be constructed between Vining Road intersection west to I-275 entrance ramps.
An informational meeting regarding further development at the Pinnacle Park, a new Sibley Road boulevard, and a proposed bridge over Pennsylvania Road to alleviate railroad crossing headaches, was discussed at Wednesday evening’s board of trustees meeting.
During the meeting, local officials, as well as the property developers at the Pinnacle Park, discussed the plans to build a Home Depot warehouse at the Pinnacle property.
In addition, a grade separation (bridge) was discussed as being a possible option for Pennsylvania Road to help deal with blocked railroad crossings in the township.
The nearly two-hour long meeting is an important meeting to watch.
Huron Township, Michigan – Hillwood/Sterling Group
In August 2019, Huron Township (“Township”) was presented with the opportunity to have two, substantially-sized buildingsbuilt on the 600-acre property known as the Pinnacle property. The Township Planning Commission and Township Board approved these building with the understanding that there would be a moratorium placed on future warehouse/distribution buildings in the PDD and I-1 Districts. The rationale for this approach was to “slow down” in order to better understand and address the communities’ concern around truck traffic and other impacts prior to additional approvals for warehouse and distribution uses.
In late 2020, the owners of the Pinnacle property were approached by Home Depot with interest to build a distribution facility at the property. The property owners approached the Township with this information and worked together to discuss the potential positive and negative impacts of such a project and to see if there was a way that it could be beneficial for both the Township and the property owners.
The issues that the Township identified regarding warehouse development generally were regarding: 1) truck traffic, 2) the desire to attract quality retail/commercial development to create a mixed-use environment, 3) the image of Sibley Road and 4) the preference to attract a manufacturing operation to the site.
After extensive and very constructive discussions, the Township representatives and property owners identified an excitingsolution that not only address the issues raised by the community and Township, but one that could actually create greater opportunity economic and recreational for the areagenerally. The idea was to strike a balance between allowing a quality warehouse development at the Pinnacle property while also creating enhanced benefits for the Township.
A holistic approach was employed by Township representatives,the development team, and transportation engineers in order to study Township concerns, and respond to them, while simultaneously attracting more desirable commercial activity. It was noted on multiple occasions that, despite local ordinances and restrictions, truck traffic can originate from surrounding communities and is not exclusively sourced from within the Township. Consequently, it became clear that through strategic design with sound planning principles, a multitude of goals could be achieved.
After significant study and analysis, the concept of a revised, well-designed Sibley Road boulevard was put forth as a solution that will have the ability to address the issues previously outlined by the Township. These benefits include:1) General Benefits – Sibley Road Boulevard Re-Designa. The current design for the boulevard is essentially a Class A, truck route. The proposed boulevard re-design would discourage truck traffic and allow for a more commercial/retail/pedestrian friendly environment.b. Wayne County is agreeable to this re-design approach.Costs for the re-design and construction will be borne by developer and Wayne County. Huron Township will not be responsible for such costs. Initial discussions between the County and the developer are occurring, however, timing of design and construction and costs therefore will be determined once the Township can commit to lift its moratorium.2) Functional Benefits – Sibley Road Boulevard Re-Designa. Slower vehicle speeds and limited turnaround capability will deter truck trafficb. Safer for motorists and pedestriansc. Slower speeds, improved efficiency/site visibility will serve as a catalyst to attract quality mixed-use/retail uses like hotels and restaurants that have been sought after in the Township and deter “low end” retail prospectsd. Enhance the image of Sibley Road and create a Huron Township “gateway experience” from I-2753) Truck Traffica. Implementing sound design strategies that have positive, practical implications (i.e. limited boulevard turnaround dimensions, smaller scale lane width, pedestrian crossings, aesthetic design improvements, etc.) is more effective than trying to solve truck traffic concerns via restrictions (i.e. No left Turn, No Trucks Permitted, etc.)b. The proposed design will allow for increased, quality warehouse/distribution development while focusing truck traffic away from areas of concern to the community and Township.4) Additional Benefits and Points of Information – Home Depot/Sibley Road Boulevard Re-Designa. Permitting the new Home Depot and associated boulevard enhancements could allow for an LDFA to be created that, in turn, could finance the desired grade alignment at Pennsylvania Road.b. The moratorium would only be removed from the PDD District and would remain in the I-1 Light Industrial and I-2 Heavy Industrial Districts. Trucking or warehousing would still not be permitted anywhere else in the Township.c. A manufacturing user may generate the same, if not more traffic and impact, than this Home Depotfacility. In addition, manufacturing can request a PA 198 Tax Abatement which would likely reduce, or eliminate the ability for an LDFA.
The 2019 moratorium placed on future warehouse/distribution buildings in the PDD and I-1 Districts made logical sense for stakeholders at that time. The moratorium period has allowed for significant deliberation, analysis and study regarding all of the concerns that have been shared previously. During this time new information and opportunity has emerged that allows for a unique alignment of opportunities that can result in a true “win-win” for everyone. The proposed Home Depot facility can serve as a catalyst for a redesigned Sibley Road Boulevard (at no cost to Huron Township) which will result in: improved traffic patterns in the area, an attractive and upgraded image which will help to attract quality retailers, and an improved tax base for the community.
Governor Whitmer today announced the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is updating the “Gatherings and Mask Order” to align with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance on face coverings.
The new order will go into effect on Saturday, May 15.
“For more than a year, we’ve been following the best data and science to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Whitmer. “The vast majority of us have trusted the scientists and experts to keep us safe during the pandemic, and it has worked. With millions of Michiganders fully vaccinated, we can now safely and confidently take the next step to get back to normal. The message is clear: vaccines work to protect you and your loved ones. If you have not yet received your vaccine, now is the time to sign up. This pandemic has been one of the toughest challenges of our lifetimes, but we came together as a state to persevere. We have all been working incredibly hard toward getting back to some sense of normalcy, and today’s news makes all of that work worthwhile.”
On Thursday, the CDC released updated guidance recommending “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
“It’s critical that eligible Michigan residents who have not yet been vaccinated schedule their appointments as soon as they can,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and MDHHS chief deputy director for health. “Getting shots in arms is the best way to end the pandemic. If you have not yet been vaccinated, it is important to continue to mask up to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”
Under the updated MDHHS Gatherings and Mask Order, Michiganders who are outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. While indoors, fully vaccinated Michiganders will no longer need to wear a mask, but residents who are not vaccinated, or have not completed their vaccinations, must continue to wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves and others. After July 1, the broad indoor mask mandate will expire.
“The safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and all the hard work that Michiganders have done allows us to take a big step in returning to normal,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “This updated order keeps Michigan in alignment with CDC guidance that is based on the knowledge of health experts. I urge our residents to continue to be respectful of each other as we move forward.”
To date, Michigan has administered 7,875,785 vaccines. According to CDC data, 55.6% of Michiganders ages 16 and older have received at least one dose, with more than 43% percent of Michiganders ages 16 and older being fully vaccinated. The state has also administered the vaccine to 927 Michiganders between the ages of 12 to 15 years old.
Starting March 16, the Michigan Secretary of State will offer new online services for customers and expand the capability of self-service stations to include many driver’s license and state ID transactions.
In addition to the many services already offered online, new online services at Michigan.gov/SOS will include:
Renew or replace an enhanced driver’s license or state ID if no new photo is required
View the status of the requested driver’s license or state ID
Request and obtain a driving record
Add a motorcycle endorsement to an eligible driver’s license
Citing the need for government to be more accessible to young people, State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) announced the creation of a new Downriver Youth Advisory Council to provide young leaders with the opportunity to work directly with the Representative and other local leaders about the issues that matter most to them.
“Too often, I think getting involved in government feels inaccessible to young people, and I want to help change that in our community,” said Camilleri. “With this new Youth Advisory Council, we’re hoping to create an environment where young leaders can discuss issues directly with elected officials and their peers while developing leadership skills and finding ways to improve our Downriver community now and into the future.”
The Council will meet virtually once per month with the goal of encouraging young leaders to develop leadership skills, make connections, and present and discuss new ideas with Rep. Camilleri.
All young people ages 16-24 living or attending school in the Downriver communities of Brownstown, Gibraltar, Grosse Ile, Huron Township, Woodhaven and Trenton are encouraged to apply, and applications will be accepted until March 16. The application can be completed online at http://youthcouncil.repcamilleri.com.