The Michigan Court of Appeals has agreed to hear Osceola Township’s appeal of a circuit court decision allowing Nestle to build a booster station in the township.
The township initially denied Nestle Waters North America’s request for a permit to build a booster station near Evart. The company took it to court and won. A Mason County judge (who heard the case after local judges recused themselves) ruled in December 2017 that the township had to approve the permit. The township began appeal proceedings in January 2018.
On July 18, the court of appeals agreed to hear the case.
The court will consider three questions, according to William Fahey, the township’s lawyer.
The court of appeals will decide if the township planning commission and zoning board of appeals properly considered Nestle Waters’ request to build a booster pump station at the proposed location; whether a “public convenience and necessity” standard applies to the booster pump station; and whether the proposed booster pump station fails to serve the public convenience and necessity standard under the township zoning ordinance, according to a news release.
Nestle says it is not surprised that the court of appeals will hear the case but the company believes the circuit court decision was correct.
“As we have stated previously, we firmly believe that the Circuit Court ruling 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 is appropriate and should be upheld,” said Arlene Anderson-Vincent, a natural resource manager for the Ice Mountain brand, which Nestle owns. “We believe the favorable Circuit Court ruling demonstrates the plan we proposed met the Township’s site plan and special land use standards.”
It’s not the only appeal Nestle is facing.
In April, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved Nestle’s request to increase the amount of water it withdraws from the White Pine Springs well near Evart. MDEQ granted permission for Nestle to go from pumping 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute.
In May, a water conservation group filed paperwork to appeal MDEQ’s decision.
If the agency’s decision stands, Nestle wants the Osceola Township booster station to accomplish its water pumping goals.
To pump 400 gallons per minute from the White Pine Springs well, Nestle will need more pumping power. That’s why the company asked to build the controversial booster station in Osceola Township.
The court of appeals has not set a date for the township’s appeal. Fahey told the Cadillac News he anticipated the process could take about a year.
Nestle maintains that the booster station will be a benefit to the community.
“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,” Anderson-Vincent said. “In addition, the structure will be a positive contribution and will add additional tax revenue to the Township.”