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Court of Appeals: Nestle can't force township to rezone

bottle of water
Wilson Hui
Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Court of Appeals says Nestle can't force Osceola Township to rezone some land.

Nestle already has an extraction facility in Osceola Township. The company wants to build a pumping station on township land that is zoned for agricultural use, which would allow the company to withdraw more water from further away.

Nestle argued the rezoning was necessary because water is a necessity, and bottling water is a public service. 

Liz Kirkwood is with the group For Love of Water, or FLOW, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of Osceola Township in the case.

She says water is an absolute necessity, but it doesn't have to come in a plastic bottle.

"There is something very different about bottled water for profit and convenience," says Kirkwood.  "Bottled water for commercial profit is not essential to life."

Ice Mountain Natural Resource Manager Arlene Anderson-Vincent said in a statement:

Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) is disappointed in the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling, which reversed the decision of the Circuit Court. We firmly believe that the Circuit Court was correct in ordering Osceola Township to issue a permit for our request to build a small, 12-foot by 22-foot building, to house a booster pump. We believe the plan we proposed met the Township’s site plan and special land use standards. We will evaluate our possible next steps in the legal process.
From the beginning, our goal with this request has been to reduce, as much as possible, any impact to the local community and the environment. In addition, the structure would be a positive contribution and would provide additional tax revenue to Osceola Township. Nestlé Waters has worked to be a good neighbor to Osceola Township for over 17 years. We value our relationships with Township residents and community leaders, and always strive to create shared value within the communities where we operate.

Kirkwood says she believes Nestle will appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court. 

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Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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