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Detroit denies permit to concrete-crushing facility opposed by neighborhood

Core City residents with a "gift" for Mayor Mike Duggan opposing the proposed concrete crushing operation in their neighborhood.
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
Core City residents with a "gift" for Mayor Mike Duggan opposing the proposed concrete crushing operation in their neighborhood.

The city of Detroit has rejected a permit application for a concrete-crushing facility in southwest Detroit, after residents of the Core City neighborhood rallied in opposition to the project.

Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) denied the permit to Murray Wikol, head of Can-Am International Trade Crossing, who owns the vacant lot where the proposed facility would have operated in a largely residential area.

In its denial letter, BSEED noted a number of issues with Wikol’s proposal. Officials wrote that there are currently “numerous piles of dirt, concrete, and asphalt on the site,” and it appears to lack “the correct screening to shield the residential neighborhood, [and] thus could pose an adverse public health, noise, and safety hazard for residents.”

BSEED noted that new heavy industry would conflict with the city’s master plan, which calls for light industry in that area. And it said that “external emissions and environmental impacts” would likely affect the Pope Francis Center, a homeless services center that’s less than 300 feet from the site. The letter said the proposal also “otherwise failed to meet its burden and satisfy other general approval criteria,” such as evidence that it wouldn’t impact nearby property values.

The denial is a big relief for Core City residents, who quickly banded together to fight off the proposed development after it came to their attention in late November.

“This isn't a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) fight where a neighborhood is upset about a parking lot or a shopping mall or a sign,” said Vanessa Butterworth, who lives just across the street from the site. “This is about environmental racism and economic discrimination.”

Butterworth said the community is pleased with the city’s decision, but residents now have other demands. “We would like a moratorium on any proposals for intensive industrial zoning that's directly beside any residential zoning, or residential communities,” she said.

Butterworth and other residents also don’t believe this fight is quite over yet. Wikol has until January 3 to possibly appeal the denial, which would put the ultimate decision in the hands of Detroit’s Board of Zoning Appeals. He could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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