State vote to extend sinkhole state of emergency approved

By: Nick Mordowanec, | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published February 6, 2017

LANSING/MACOMB COUNTY — On Jan. 31, the Michigan House of Representatives approved Rep. Bill Sowerby’s House Concurrent Resolution 1 to ask Gov. Rick Snyder to extend the city of Fraser’s state of emergency in relation to the sinkhole that opened Dec. 24.

The extension called for an additional 56 days, in effect after the original expiration date of Feb. 3.

It was confirmed by a voice vote and no opposition in the House. On Feb. 1, the state Senate unanimously voted to extend the state of emergency.

File photo by Deb Jacques

Sowerby, D-Clinton Township, said that action of the House and Senate was requested by Snyder. Sowerby co-sponsored the resolution along with nine of his Macomb County colleagues in the House.

“(My colleagues) did take special consideration in speeding the process up knowing the situation,” Sowerby said. “It was a good thing the House passed it, and all 10 Macomb county legislators understand the seriousness of the issue.”

Rep. John Chirkin, D-Roseville, said he was glad the House acted quickly on the measure as a means to provide assistance in association with the massive repairs that the sinkhole requires.

Rep. Diana Farrington, R-Utica, said she was happy that Snyder understood the importance of helping families and businesses affected by the ongoing situation.

“The sinkhole does not just affect Fraser,” Farrington said. “It has a wide-reaching impact on all Macomb County communities.”

Rep. Patrick Green, D-Warren, called the situation a “warning” that infrastructure must be acknowledged within the county in order to avoid another environmental disaster.

That statement was echoed by Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, who said other municipalities need to be cognizant of what is going on so that below-ground infrastructure failures do not occur on this scale again. He said it needs to become a “higher priority across all of Michigan.”

Sowerby said the bill was important just as a means to provide resources toward Macomb County. He said he never had doubt that the other Macomb County representatives would support the measure.

“The county who owns the system is doing everything they can to come up with good situations and remedies to take care of this awful situation, and I have full confidence in the county to be able to resolve this situation,” Sowerby said.