MONTROSE TOWNSHIP (WJRT) -
(06/09/14) - Two years ago, a Mid-Michigan landfill business filed an unusual request with the Michigan DEQ and other agencies.
It wanted to re-route a creek that ran through its property.
Operators say the Brent Run Landfill in Montrose Township was running out of space. If nothing was done, it would be full in about three years - and 15 people would be out of work.
That worried Montrose Township officials, who have come to rely on the revenue generated by the landfill's property taxes.
"There's things we as the township board want to do to keep the township moving forward. A big part of that is money that comes from the landfill," said Mark Emmendorfer, Montrose Township supervisor.
In 2008, the landfill paid $890,000 in property taxes. In 2014, it will more than double.
Changing the course of Brent Run Creek would open up more of the property.
The creek makes a bow on the south side of the landfill. Engineers say by moving 700,000 cubic yards of dirt, the creek can be made to run through an area of the property not suitable for solid waste collection.
"We finally have all our permits in hand to expand a 55 acre expansion of the landfill, including about a one mile section of relocation of the Birch Run Creek," said Tim Church, Brent Run Landfill, assistant district landfill manager.
The permits require workers to be good stewards of the environment, with special attention paid to one species.
"A fresh water slipper shell mussel that's in the stream, that's a protected species," Church said.
For the past few weeks, earth moving equipment from Great Lakes Fusion in Vernon has been pushing around tons of dirt to shape the land for the creek's new path.
"There is no pollution going from the landfill into the creek," Church said.
A bridge to carry heavy equipment traffic over the creek just opened Monday morning. Despite all the activity, it will take a while for the project to be wrapped up.
"The stream should be relocated by the end of 2016," Church said.
By increasing the useable area of the landfill, it should be able to stay open another 16 years.