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Grosse Pointe Park

July 24, 2014

Sale of incinerator property could be on horizon

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTE PARK — The Grosse Pointes-Clinton Refuse Disposal Authority’s former incinerator parcel might finally be getting a new owner.

The 64-acre wooded property located at 14 Mile and Quinn Road in Clinton Township — a portion of which was formerly home to a municipal landfill as well — has stood vacant since operations at the incinerator ceased in 1999 and that building was torn down in 2001. Formerly zoned for industrial use, Clinton Township rezoned it for residential development in 2002, and despite efforts over more than the last decade to market it, GPCRDA Board officials have been unable to find a buyer willing to assume not only the land, but also possible future liability for it.

That could be about to change. During a July 8 GPCRDA Board meeting in Grosse Pointe Park, the board discussed renewed interest from Clinton Township officials about possibly buying the parcel. The GPCRDA now consists only of representatives from the five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods, following the departure at the end of March of Clinton Township and Mount Clemens, but with the property still in limbo, those Macomb County communities retain some ties and financial obligations to the Refuse Authority, despite having inked new contracts with other waste disposal agents. In addition, GPCRDA reserves due to Clinton Township and Mount Clemens can’t be disbursed to those communities until property and other remaining issues are resolved.

GPCRDA Board Treasurer Dale Krajniak, who represents Grosse Pointe Park, said Clinton Township officials had expressed an interest in perhaps acquiring the property.

“They would be interested in ownership of the property subject to certain conditions,” Krajniak told the board.

He said Clinton Township Attorney Jack Dolan told them the township would be interested in the land if the site was cleaned up to meet industrial zoning standards.

“We generally feel … the land is at that state already,” Krajniak said.

After demolition of the incinerator in 2001, an independent company was brought in to conduct environmental testing at the site. Results of those tests, compiled in a 2001 report prepared by Conestoga-Rovers and Associates, came back fairly clean, with no PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, volatile organic compounds or semivolatile organic compounds found in surface water or lake sediment at the site. Although a few hard metals were detected, they were generally at only slightly higher concentrations than some government standards for residential direct contact.

“I’ve done environmental (legal work) for the better part of 20 years … (and) just from the (CRA report) excerpts I’ve seen, that was a nice report,” said GPCRDA Secretary Donald Parthum Jr., who represents Grosse Pointe City.

Krajniak said Craig Hupp, one of the Park’s city attorneys, felt the site wouldn’t permit long-term residential development at its present state, but industrial standards are different.

What the GPCRDA isn’t interested in is performing additional testing or remediation on the parcel, hoping, instead, to find someone willing to assume it as-is.

“All of the communities (still with the Authority) kind of agree there’s no more digging or testing that needs to be done with that property,” GPCRDA Board Chair Brett Smith said.

GPCRDA Board member Al Fincham, who represents Grosse Pointe Woods, echoed that sentiment.

“I am not in favor of having a shovel put in the ground while the property is owned by (all of us). … I don’t want to open up that can of worms,” he said.

Smith, who represents Grosse Pointe Shores, said his city’s attorney, Brian Renaud, is also a veteran environmental attorney who has worked on landfill closures. Because of Renaud’s expertise in this area, Smith suggested that he be used by the GPCRDA to speak with Dolan about the possible sale to Clinton Township.

“I think we’ve been spinning our wheels for years, and now is the time to move,” Smith said.

The GPCRDA Board agreed. In a motion made by Fincham, the board voted unanimously in favor of having Hupp provide an initial opinion to Grosse Pointe Park — to be then shared with the other GPCRDA members — and then have Renaud and Dolan enter into talks about the incinerator property. Representatives from Grosse Pointe Farms and Harper Woods were absent from the July 8 meeting.

“We’ll get moving on that right away, and hopefully, we can work something out,” Smith said.

He said they hope to know more by the time the next GPCRDA Board meeting takes place Sept. 9 in Grosse Pointe Woods.

“This should be a very short discussion, because if (Clinton Township) wants to put a hole in the ground, the discussion is over,” Smith said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.