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Citizens to Keep Rives Rural are trying to do just that

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 11:09:42-04

JACKSON, Mich — A grassroots organization called Citizens to Keep Rives Rural has come together to oppose a proposed power plant.

The organization formed after a 200-acre, 1800-megawatt natural gas power plant was proposed by Novi Energy for a site in Rives Township.

"Even if there was a need for a power plant, it is improperly cited in this location," said Megan Short from Citizens to Keep Rives Rural. "There are alternative places where this power plant could be built that would be a proper location and an agriculturally zoned land in a residential neighborhood is not it."

The proposed site is on Baseline Road on the border of Ingham and Jackson counties.

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What makes the area enticing from an energy production standpoint is a natural gas pipeline 42 inches in diameter that runs through the township.

A woman who answered the phone at Novi Energy said they were not pursuing this project right now and hung up. The company did not respond to additional attempts to reach them for comment.

Novi Energy has a 10 year option to purchase the land.

"So, when the township tells you, 'There's been no application. We haven't heard from them in forever.' That doesn't mean the power plant isn't happening. It just means that it is taking a while," Short said.

The goal of Citizens to Keep Rives Rural is to have a stronger ordinance that would put a power plant in the correct location and not near residential areas.

"The value of my home...there were already issues of people looking to purchase in the neighborhood when people heard rumors of this power plant already detracted people from purchasing. People's home values fluctuated when rumors came out about this," said Joseph Yang, who lives near the proposed site.

Yang said he would see the smokestacks from the power plant in his backyard if the power plant were to be put there.

"The drainage is going to be an issue as well. They're going to be pumping this water out and then where are they going to discharge it to? Now, is my neighbor's backyard and my backyard going to be flooded with water? This township has major water issues as it is, it doesn't need to add to that," Yang said.

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In Monday night's public comment segment of the Rives Township Planning Commission meeting, attorneys from Citizens to Keep Rives Rural presented six changes they believe would strengthen the township's industrial ordinance and dissuade companies such as Novi Energy from building near residential areas.

The Planning Commission accepted one change to the ordinance which states that company "would have the applicant demonstrate the architectural or structural integrity and quality are not undermined and that any deviations from the above standards will still provide for a harmonious development and serve to minimize any possible impacts to adjacent properties and residences."

"If it's not Novi Energy, it's going to be somebody else," Yang said. "X marks the spot right here in Rives Township. We need to have an ordinance that will protect us as best as possible. We need the Township Board as well as the Planning Commission to fight for us to keep our township safe and environmentally friendly."

Short said that the Michigan Public Service Commission isn't involved "because it isn't a public utility, so they have no say in the siting of it.

"The process would be the power producer would come to the township and ask for a re-zone which is why this industrial ordinance means everything at this point," she said. "If it's not written into the ordinance or if the ordinance isn't strong enough to keep them out then they would probably be granted the re-zone. But, if we have a strong industrial ordinance, we can protect the township."

The Rives Township Board is set to vote on the updated industrial ordinance June 10.

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