News and Notes on the
Or What could be the future
News and Notes on the
Or What could be the future
The Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance (MAEDA) aka Choose Marshall has been promoting a 1,600 acre track of land which they call the "Marshall Megasite" to various manufacturers for several years now. Unfortunately, promotion has mostly occurred out of the eye of the general public, especially Marshall Township residents. The "veil" was lifted so to speak, when word got out to the public that a PA 425 land transfer was about to be enacted between the Marshall Township and the City of Marshall. (see our posts on the 425) This transfer allows for City water and utilities to service the proposed Megasite. As one could have anticipated, residents were outraged by the lack of transparency in land acquisition and lack of public notification. Since 2019, MAEDA has slowly been securing options to purchase property to assemble he Marshall Megasite. These options are secured with nondisclosure agreements so that property owners do not discuss the terms of the options with their neighbors. Adjoining property owners had no idea that they would be on the edge of a Mega Industrial complex that was being pitched to manufactures like Toyota, Ford, and GM through MAEDA and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
Over the years this site has been passed over by various manufacturers, most recently by Ford Motor Company who decided to go to Tennessee to build their mega campus which they've coined, "Blue Oval City" on 3,600 acres of farmland in the Memphis area.
After being passed over by Ford, the State of Michigan really started to ramp things up. They were able to get the state legislature to approve taking one billion, yes one billion dollars out of the state's general fund to use toward making Michigan's Megasites more attractive to potential manufacturers. Attractiveness also involves big incentive packages which includes, providing infrastructure to the sites, free land and tax abatements.
Will this be the silver bullet to land big manufacturers. Well we hope not. But the Marshall Megasite has plenty of deficiencies as far as Mega Industrial Sites go. We're listing them in no particular order.
Size and Shape of Megasite.
MAEDA advertises the site to be 2.5 square miles, which gives an inaccurate picture of the site. The site is actually much longer than wide. Averaging roughly 1 mile wide to 4 miles long. Megasites across the country, which have proven to be more attractive, are more square than oblong making for factory layout a little more convenient.
Proximity to Kalamazoo River, one of Michigan's longest tributaries. The Megasite runs along the Kalamazoo for roughly 2.5 miles. (separated by a railway line and narrow green strip) The reluctancy of a Corporation to set up shop along the Kalamazoo River is understandable. In 2010, the largest inland oil spill in the Midwest (at the time) occurred along this very segment of the Kalamazoo (it entered the Kalamazoo from Talmadge Creek) The spill occurred due to a rupture of the Enbridge Oil pipeline. 800,000 gallons of crude tar sand oil entered the river. Enbridge spent four years cleaning it up. This clean up included removing large islands of contaminated soil from the center of the river and from along the banks. But can corporations be rest assured that contaminants at some level won't be detected in years to come? If they are detected, will the corporation be blamed? It could be a large enough concern that Corporations have chosen other sites.
Undesirable place for management to live.
What MAEDA has failed to address is Marshall's desirability as a place to live. Management must want to live here, and we argued that many don't. Compared to states such as Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, Michigan's climate is terrible. First off, Southwest Michigan tops the list of cloudiest places in the United States. One is lucky to see the sun more than a couple dozen times between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. Winters are cold but without enough snow to make winter sports a possibility. Marshall also falls within the top range of severe weather occurrences, mostly in the form of sever thunderstorms but also to a lesser extent tornado activity.
Marshall is a quaint small historic town that is a wonderful community, however it doesn't provide the outdoor recreational activities which young adults seek. The town itself surrounded by cornfields, solar farms, marijuana growing facilities and little else. The only possible place for outdoor recreation IS the 1,800 acre tract of land that the Township is planning for the Megasite. Marshall is positioned exactly in the center of the state, far away from Michigan's beautiful beaches and recreational areas.
Local grocery stores don't provide much diversity in products and produce appears as though it has sat on the shelf for a week or more.
The local schools are in good shape but they have been unable to pass the last two school millages. And unlike larger municipalities, the local schools offer less in the way of curriculum.
Our suggestion to the City of Marshall and Marshall Township is to provide the services and amenities that would attract the people to our community who will be able to provide the knowledge and skill to start up small manufacturing plants within Marshall's current industrial park that fits within the character of our community.
This suggestion would be to create a 1,800 State Park Recreational Area in what is referred to as the Marshall Megasite. This site could include miles and miles of hiking, bike and horseback trails, an agricultural district (so the two historic farmsteads would not be destroyed) offering community gardens and barn. The Park would include camp sites and observation platforms along the Kalamazoo for observing wildlife and there is even a suggestion to build a new Museum of Natural History to house the collection from the Kingman Museum of Natural History. The park would be accessible from downtown Marshall by a two mile bike path that runs along the railroad line. That would be marvelous. That is a plan that would attract investment to our community.
Governor Whitmer signs bipartisan bill to invest in health and welfare of communities - marshall not included.Read Now
Hold Governor Whitmer accountable! Why is Marshall, Michigan not receiving a fabulous placemaking grant in the way of a new State Park Recreational Area which will provide camping, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, and gardening opportunities? Why isn't doesn't MAEDA have plans to renovate a historic 120 year old farmsteads for public use? These things ARE happening in other. cities across the state. Why is MAEDA NOT petitioning for these resources which will add to the quality of life for current residents? Instead, the state proposes to increase air, water, noise and light pollution in our community through the construction of a MEGA industrial complex that will destroy out way of life.
Here's the press release which was issued today by the Governor's office.
Today, Michigan is taking a step forward to grow our economy, invest in our communities, and build a bright future for Michiganders. I joined Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, Speaker of the House Joe Tate, and members of the Michigan Legislature to sign a bipartisan supplemental into law that will build more housing, revitalize communities, and empower entrepreneurs. This is the earliest any bill has been signed in a new term since 1947.
This supplemental bill will help us lower costs and make a real difference for Michigan families, communities, and small businesses. It will help build or refurbish thousands of affordable housing units across our state, revitalizes our communities with projects to create more vibrant spaces, empowers entrepreneurs just starting out in the tech world, and help workers get good-paying jobs. I’m proud of my partners in the Michigan Legislature for their work to get this done and I look forward to seeing all that we will accomplish in the coming year.
We are investing in the Housing and Community Development Fund to build and refurbish affordable housing for veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, and working-class families across our state. This funding will help build or refurbish 2,000 housing units, house 6,000 Michiganders, and create 1,600 good-paying construction jobs. Additionally, we are funding the Missing Middle Housing Program, which aims to specifically build and rehabilitate properties for middle class families near where they work.
We are funding $100 million in Revitalization and Placemaking Grants to turn underutilized office, commercial, and community space into places for people to enjoy, including affordable housing, outdoor dining areas, or other place-based spaces. The first round of grants back in September 2022 provided funds for several projects that are already underway, including a 180-unit building in Portage, a historic theater in downtown Clare, a mixed-use building in Alpena, and Grand Circus Park in Detroit. The shared spaces will provide Michiganders a place to gather with their friends, family, and members of their community. This investment will secure good paying jobs in construction and operations for thousands of Michiganders for many years to come.
Entrepreneurs & Workers
We are also investing $75 million in SmartZones, which are 20 regions across our state where technology companies, entrepreneurs, and researchers are near one another and organizations that help them succeed. This bill also provides $25 million for apprenticeships to help our Michigan workers pursue whatever career path they choose and ensure they have a good-paying job.
As we close out a productive first month of 2023, I am fired up to keep getting things done alongside the Michigan Legislature to help us build a brighter future for Michigan.
Below is a report by MLive
Dear Governor Whitmer,
What a great opportunity to showcase the Kalamazoo River after it was nearly destroyed by the Enbridge spill just a few years ago. Southern Lower Michigan needs more state parks! Why not designate the land earmarked as the Michigan Megasite as a new state park as a better use. Preserve the character of Marshall, one of our most historic towns, create a state park along the already existing North Country Trail, which could be routed off road and along the river. It could provide a launch and paddling opportunities on the Kalamazoo River. There would be room for cycling and horseback trails. The existing Riverside Farm property and buildings would make a great interpretive center and headquarters for the surrounding lands.
Utilizing that property to boost recreation and tourism opportunities will preserve a river that had to recover from devastation once already, a historic town and the surrounding woods and lands for generations to come. WE need more green spaces. Please reconsider the Marshall Megasite.
Union City, MI
The case of the PA 425.
Many residents in Marshall Township and City of Marshall FIRST learned about the State's proposed "Marshall Megasite" as a result of the public hearings for the PA 425 land transfer scheduled on January 16 (Martin Luther King Day a national holiday) at the Marshall Township Hall and January 17th at the City of Marshall Council Meeting.
According to the MEDC article below, "The PA 425 allows municipalities involved in land negotiation great flexibility. Land transfer is sometimes needed for properties that lack infrastructure necessary to support economic development projects. The agreement should provide the least expensive infrastructure possible to the proposed site. PA 425 has also been used to gain economic incentive tools that only core or distressed communities can offer toward support of economic development projects"
So the proposed Megasite would certainly be an appropriate use for this application. But is this tool, which is supposed to expedite development projects, infringing on the rights of residents? Read the MEDC post below and refer to our earlier post on the Marshall Township's PA 425. We are seeking verification as to whether the amendments to the PA 425 in 2022 were made after a proper public hearing.
Regular protests commence at Marshall's Brooks Memorial Fountain in downtown Marshall
Local residents gathered on a cold and dreary day in downtown Marshall to protest the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance (MAEDA) and the State of Michigan's plan to build the "Marshall Megasite" a heavy industrial complex on 1,800 acres on the edge of Marshall. The complex will cover over 4.5 by 1.5 miles of agricultural lands, farmsteads and homes between 15 Mile Road at the edge of Marshall to the Soaring Eagle Casino on 11 Mile Road.
Channel 3 News was on the spot to interview local residents opposed to the Marshall Megasite! This was the second public protest in downtown Marshall since the City Council of Marshall voted unanimously on the PA 425 land transfer.
Here's the link to WMMT's story https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/protest-held-over-proposed-michigan-megasite-in-marshall/ar-AA16I7VO
FROM STEVE LAZAR, MARSHALL TOWNSHIP RESIDENT
This mega site has the backing of the governor as she thinks it’s good for Michigan. I believe she thinks solar and batteries are the future. They may be part of the future however destroying farmland, the existing environment and altering the lives of residents, WITH NO WARNING, is not the way to go. The residents here have had no say in this proposal, and they are not happy. This underhanded, back door approach is something I’d expect from Republicans. And subtly intimidating people, especially senior citizens, is reprehensible.
I’m approaching 74 years on this earth and have lived and worked in three States. I have heard the song and dance from industry about how concerned they are about the environment many times and have seen the wasteland and pollution they create and then leave behind. They all claim they’ll have safeguards in place. They all “prove” they’re meeting EPA standards. They all say their “runoff “ into the water is not harmful. I’m no geologist but I know the difference between a load of rocks and a load of crap.
Marshall is a small, rural and historic town and the citizens like it that way. The air and water and land and light pollution this mega site will create will ruin this area. You can’t have a site that big without pollution. Any denial of that comes from the product defense industry or lawyers, both of which are good at telling you the knife in your back is your fault.
I don’t think the present administration has considered the long term consequences of eradicating farmland for industrial use. This country should be able to feed itself but it won’t be able to if this kind of development continues. We may have enough land but such heavy industrial sites alter the environment in so many ways that food production will be altered. Did you know that light pollution influences migration, insect biomass, animal mating rituals and much more. Our industrial complex has already polluted rivers and streams all over this country and has influenced food production in negative ways. Why add to this insane approach? There is such a thing as balance; small industrial sites that work with the existing landscape rather than the “scorched earth” approach this site has already started.
Transparency of the Marshall township Board and Marshall City Council called into question.
The Legal Issue
Marshall Township and the City of Marshall entered into a “Master 425 Development Agreement” on February 9, 2022. The Master 425 Agreement dated February 9, 2022, if considered a PA 425 agreement, is illegal, as no public hearing was held. If the Master 425 Agreement dated February 9, 2022 is not considered a PA 425 agreement, it is still illegal as it restricts the ability for the City Council or Township Board from voting against a PA 425 transfer or call for a referendum. The board of Marshall Township cannot be compelled to act against the wishes of its citizens and State of Michigan statute by any agreement between parties. In addition, the Master 425 Agreement should be made null and void as it is illegal, and the City of Marshall be made aware of this situation.
There is now (4) PA 425 transfer before the Marshall Township board to create a Mega Industrial Site from farmland, against the wishes of the citizens of Marshall Township. Residents have asked for a referendum, but have now been told that the risk of legal action (due to the Master 425 Development Agreement) and the wishes of the citizens of Marshall Township will be overruled by this board.
At the 2.5 hour Marshall Township public hearing on January 16th, a standing room only crowd of more than 100 people packed the room to speak against the PA 425 transfers of land to the City of Marshall for a Mega-Site. This included citizens from the township as well as the City, including our new County Commissioner. And again at the 2-hour City of Marshall Public Hearing on January 17th, a crowd which stretched out the doors of the Council Chambers attended to express their opposition. Of the the 38 people who were able to speak, 30 expressed their opposition to the transfer. Of the eight expressing their wish for the transfers, several were either on the board (including Matt Davis and Richard Lindsey) or employed by the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance and the former city mayor (Jim Dyer) who stated he helped to initiate the proposed "MegaSite."
What is the PA 425?
124.24 Public hearing; notice; majority vote required.
(1) The legislative body of each local unit affected by a proposed transfer of property under this act shall hold at least 1 public hearing before entering into a contract under this act. Notice of the hearing shall be given in the manner provided by the open meetings act, Act No. 267 of the Public Acts of 1976, being sections 15.261 to 15.275 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.
(2) A decision to enter into a contract under this act shall be made by a majority vote of those members elected and serving on the legislative body of each affected local unit.
124.25 Compliance as condition to entering into contract; resolution; referendum; approval by majority of electors; petition; effect of not filing petition or adopting resolution.
(2) If the governing body of a local unit involved in a transfer of property under this act adopts a resolution calling for a referendum on the transfer, the local unit may enter into the contract only if the transfer is approved by a majority of the electors voting on the transfer.
Special Meeting of the Marshall Township Board
Thursday, January 26, 2023 @ 7pm
Regarding Land Transfer of "Marshall Megasite" from Marshall Township to the City of Marshall.
Covers city council meetings
Here's our response to Wood TV8's report on the recent City Council Meeting. You can read and watch it here
We are a community and we stand together!!
The idea of the "Marshall Megasite" has been forced upon the people of Marshall Township by the City of Marshall and MAEDA! The City of Marshall has shown blatant disregard for the lives of people who live in, and around the proposed HEAVY INDUSTRIAL PARK. But the 1,800 acre heavy industrial complex will not only affect Township residents, it will affect all of Marshall. MAEDA disclosed two years ago to potential manufacturers that the Marshall MEGAsite would get its water from the City of Marshall. Why was this information not shared with Marshall residents? It should have first been voted on by Marshall residents. MAEDA has not been honest with local residents nor potential manufacturers. Maybe this is why they have been unable to find a buyer up until now.
A very small percentage of Marshall town residents and township residents knew this was coming? WHY if it is such a Great thing? The majority of people in the community were not aware of this until this site brought it to the public's attention. MAEDA has been negligent. They are not deserving of state taxpayer funds.
James Durian was hired by MAEDA in 2020 (during Covid) after a stint working as an Economic advisor in Flint (year and a half). James was hired not to grow Marshall's downtown, but specifically to work on the development of the Marshall TOWNSHIP Megasite. He has not moved to Marshall, nor will he. We can be assured that James will move on to muck up another community. MAEDA is being paid through grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, where he once worked. Was Jim hired or appointed to the position of MAEDA? Like Gretchen Whitmer, Durian is both a graduate of Michigan State (James Madison College) and Michigan State University College of Law.
What is Jim's interest in our small historic town?
Why isn't it a prerequisite that the CEO of MAEDA live in Marshall? How can anyone know a community when they don't live here and must commute one hour to work.
Durian is selling out our way of life and he doesn't have to LIVE the experience. We want answers! Our friends and family and fellow community members are losing their homes and way of life.
We are a community and we stand together!
Please post in the comments below when you first learned about the Marshall Megasite. Did the City of Marshall or Marshall Township ever have an informational meeting about the "Marshall Megasite". Who was there? How many people attended? How were they informed? Did Marshall Township ever send information about the Marshall Megasite to local residents, with their summer or winter tax bills? This Megasites will change property values and tax rates. Why were people not notified?
Help us do the research!
#choosemarshall, #stopthemarshallmegasite, #marshallmegasite, #michiganmegasite, Marshall Chamber & Economic Development, Choose Marshall, Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
PUblic Against the "Megasite Mess"
d1/18/23. City of Marshall Public Hearing on the transfer of 4 properties from Marshall Township (within the "proposed Marshall Megasite") to the Town of Marshall.
A standing room only crowd, the majority being opposed to the Michigan Megasite, attended the Public Hearing to express their views on this transfer, which is a necessary step in order for the Megasite Industrial Project to move forward. Moving the site into the City allows the Mega-site access to city utilities (water and electric).
Unfortunately the microphone normally available for public comments was not functioning or turned off making it difficult for those at the back of the room to hear all the speakers. The room was too small for the crowd with dozens left standing in the hall outside. 38 people addressed the Councill.
Thirty (30) of the speakers were in opposition of the land transfer and the Marshall Megasite project. These speakers included directly affected by the Industrial Site. Speakers spoke to the light, air, noise, traffic pollution which will occur as a result of the site as well as the possibility of ground contamination and the sites proximity to the Kalamazoo River. Residents living on Michigan Avenue, 15 1/2 mile road, Ceresco, Marshall, and Squaw Creek especially expressed their outrage over the proposal. Several attendees said the project has not been adequately advertised and that the process has not been transparent . Many attendees had only heard about the "Megasite" in the last week.
Of those who spoke for the project,(eight in total) two are directly compensated by MAEDA. James Durian, Executive Director, of MAEDA/Choose Marshall, stated that he lives in Mason, Michigan. He read a statement as to the perceived economic benefit of the project. We wonder if Durian (who was hired in 2020) WILL Choose Marshall by eventually moving to OUR quaint small town after the creation of the Mega Industrial Park. After all, it will be a much more inviting place to live!!!
Richard Lindsey spoke in favor of the land transfer. He also let everyone know that he lives happily (on the other side of Marshall) Township) in a historic home that he enjoys renovating. As he said this, we wonder if Rich had any consideration of all the people in the room about to lose their way of life, home, culture, farmland, property value etc.??
Richard is employed by MAEDA and is the guy that goes out and convinces elderly township residents to sign options to sell their property to the state. Because we all know that the elderly ESPECIALLY want to move out of the home they've lived in for decades.
A few other people spoke in favor. All citing the wonderful jobs!! We're surprised that no one talked about how they dream of walking around the big industrial park at night, trying to see stars, wondering if the frogs are dying along the Kalamazoo River, and reminiscing with friends about the wonderful fields of corn or historic farmsteads in this location. Nope, Just about the jobs. What are these jobs? We still don't know? We don't know the company that's interested. What kind of jobs, how many, where will workers come from? Where will they live?
No one explained how life in Marshall would be better in Marshall? Someone for the Megasite said there would be more kids in school! Yay! But we also heard from one young Marshall resident who shared her story about being in an underfunded school and understaffed school. Creating "Jobs" without creating quality life for your residents is foolish. We heard from residents who LOVE their quality of life as it is and BELIEVE that this will REDUCE their quality of life. None of these residents claimed they needed jobs. In fact, none of the people present claimed that they wanted jobs. Those who spoke against the MEGA site said they CHOSE to live in Marshall because it is a small historic town with friendly people and that they feel safe in this community as it is. They cited the aforementioned consequences of the Proposed Megasite.
Sadly, The City Council did NOT listen to the will of the people. They listened to the FEW people in the room who have orchestrated this plan WITHOUT public input or buy-in or NOTICE.
Someone on the Council said that these "residents" asked for these properties to be included in the City of Marshall.
Gee, is it that easy??? What if Marshall residents want to transfer their property to Marshall Township and decide to sink a well in their backyard and bypass city Water? Is it THAT easy?
Why do the property rights of a FEW township residents, overwrite the rights of hundreds or thousands of township and Marshall residents. Why are THESE property rights More important? Hundreds of people will lose their homes as a result of the Megasite. Others will lose the value in their property. We all know that the City Council isn't representing these fellow citizens. They are representing corporate interests.
Bottom line. You don't help people, by harming them.
At the end of the Public Hearing, the City Council Approved the land transfer and spoke favorably about the "proposed Megasite Project" that they were well aware of, while members of the public just learned about last week. This is no day of rejoicing for them.
This vote issue will STILL have to be voted on at Marshall Township. If this is approved by the Marshall Township Board, the proposed MegaSite is one step closer to reality. It ALSO will mean that Marshall Township Residents will NO longer be able to vote on what happens with this property which, if the state exercises its option, (purchases the site) it would be sold to MAEDA. (Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance). If you're unable with how these decisions have been made, you should contact the MAEDA BOD.
Posted on the MAEDA Website 1/19/22 are MAEDA Board of Directors. Listed below
Matt Davis, Chair
George Jakat, Vice Chair
Kelli Scott, Treasurer
Richard Lindsey, Secretary
Ryan Traver (Serves on Marshall City Council)
Over a 100 people packed inside the tiny Marshall Township Hall to protest against the proposed Marshall Megasite and against the transfer of land within the Megasite from Marshall Township into the Town of Marshall, Michigan (population 7,008).
We heard gut-wrenching stories of people having lived in their homes for decades, who will be forced to move if the industrial project continues. We heard from people who reluctantly signed options with MAEDA and also from those refuse to sign options but have expressed that scare tactics and pressure are used against them by a paid contractor/board member employed by MAEDA. The public hearing lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours with each speaker being given a generous amount of time to make comments. Many of the local residents had just learned about the proposed heavy industrial park as a result of our efforts to get out the word. Many speakers would be directly impacted by the Megasite including residents on C.Drive North, Ceresco, along Michigan Avenue, and immediately across the Kalamazoo River.
The Marshall Township Council voted to postpone their vote until February, after the outcome of the Public Hearing tonight at the Marshall's City Council meeting tonight, January 17, 2023.
This post will be updated with more information as well as photos and video's of last night's public hearing......but for now we have much work to do.
We are concerned residents who are oppossed to the State of Michigan's plant to create a 1,600 acre industrial park outside historic Marshall, Michigan. Instead we wish to see a 1,600 acre recreational area on this site which runs along two miles of the Kalamazoo River. Save Historic Marshall, Save Michigan's Agricultural Land and Protect Michigan's green spaces!