Protecting a Jewel
The township asked for, and eventually got, additional monitoring sites both on Barrett's property and around Pleasant Lake itself. Reading says the township will be able to detect two key threats before they would affect areas off site: a drop in water level or contamination through mining processes. "Based on what my hydrologist says, there's a relative certainty that a situation that could adversely affect riparian interests off site would be detected on site, hopefully in sufficient time to check the situation," he says. "That's the critical facet we insisted on."
Barrett will pay for the plan with thousands of dollars deposited annually into an escrow account, according to Reading. In exchange for accepting this and other conditions, all parties agreed Barrett could go ahead and dig a deeper pit.
Though neither activists nor the township stopped the mine expansion, Heuser sees the plan as a victory of sorts. She says the group plans to stay active whether or not she and CROW's slate of environmental activists win their races for township offices. (The slate on the November 4 ballot included the first Democratic Party candidates to appear on Freedom Township ballots in decades.)
"Because I was involved in this, I saw how we need to be more proactive," Heuser said. "Why wasn't someone on the board coming forward and challenging assumptions that were obviously wrong? Gravel pits find it easier to ask for forgiveness than permission [when] pushing the envelope."