Power plant process frustrating neighbors

Posted at 10:25 AM, Oct 26, 2018

Homeowners in Jackson County are feeling left in the dark about the status of a proposed natural gas power plant.

Novi Energy is the developer and earlier this year, they proposed the Cornerstone Power Plant in Rives Township. The plant would be located on about 200 acres between Churchill and Baseline Rd., bordering Rives and Leslie Township.

Neighbors around the area of the proposed site have been pretty outspoken against the project. They feel in limbo, because they, nor township officials, have heard from the utility company in months. They don't know if the project is going to come to fruition or not.

"I've lived here all my life. This has always been farmland," said Bob Fauser, a resident of Rives Township.

Fauser was one of many Rives Township homeowners who pushed to 'Keep Rives Rural.' His neighborhood became up in arms over the project.

"Noise, water, traffic on the road," Fauser said. "It just wasn't right."

Earlier this year, the Rives Township Planning Commission and Board adjusted the town's new master plan draft to include industrial zoning on the exact site where the plant would be built.

The master plan shows the township's future-land use map.

When that did not sit well with residents, the commission and board changed the zoning back to agricultural.

"We've kinda come to a stalemate here about what's gonna happen next. Are they gonna come and sue Rives Junction, because they okay'ed it once but it was taken off...?" Fauser said.

Neighbors still worry the fight may not be over.

"We still have two months and there are still two chances for editing the master plan," said Kyle Waller, a member of 'Citizens To Keep Rives Rural' (CKRR).

CKRR is a grassroots organization dedicated to conserving the rural character and agricultural landscape of Rives Township.

The Rives Township Planning Commission will edit the master plan draft and the Rives Township Board will vote on the final master draft plan in early December.

"Once the master plan is adopted in, they're going to be going over all of their zoning ordinances and our concern would be the verbiage in there and [we need to] make sure the verbiage is correct to not allow industrial to come in onto agricultural land," Waller said.

"If I wanted to live in the city, I would've moved to the city. The land is part of me now. I wouldn't move. I'd just stay here. We'd just grind it out, I guess," Fauser said.

The utility can still apply for a special-use permit, but Jerry Adams, the Supervisor of Rives Township Board said that has not happened yet.

News Ten reached out to Novi Energy's Media Relations Department to find out what they had to say about the project, but we have not heard back from them as of Thursday evening.