Case closed on 148, lawyer says

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Neil Wallace, attorney for Curt Catallo, called for misinformation about 148 N. Main Street to stop.
“Over the last weeks and months, your council meeting has been being used as a forum for fear mongering,” said Wallace, attorney for Catallo, at the Sept. 24 City Council meeting. “The disinformation about the property, that’s tantamount to slander.”
The site was used as a gas station and muffler shop since about 1920, before contamination from underground fuel storage tanks was found in 1992. Prior owners removed the tanks along with 800 cubic yards of contaminated soil, and in 2002 placed 300 pounds of oil-eating microbe and absorbent chemicals in the plume.
The remaining plume of petroleum contamination has been monitored and found to be shrinking, Wallace said.
Catallo sought to redevelop the property in 2012.
“We knew when we took it on that there was an environmental issue – we spent a lot of money on our own environmental consultants before we agreed to purchase the property,” Wallace said. “We made a determination that we could go forward with the project, that it would not be a problem or a threat to the city or the community.”
They signed a conditional rezoning agreement with the city in 2014 to rezone the property from residential to commercial, which called for a slab to be placed over the plume.
“Unfortunately, we were thwarted by some of the city’s consultants – it was a breach of the city’s conditional zoning contract,” Wallace said. “I advised my client we should be suing for the breach of contract, and my client said, ‘no, this is our community, we’re a part of this community. We’re here to try and help improve this community and make it better. We’re not going to sue.'”
Development of 148 N. Main Street was at issue in 13 of 18 records in Susan Bisio’s 2015 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the City of the Village of Clarkston, including storm water system review, detention system options, and hold harmless agreement.
David Marsh, who is running for City Council in November, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for all documents regarding 148 N. Main, and provided them to City Council and the public last month.
The records include the DEQ’s closure report on the case. According to the report, Innovative Environmental Solutions conducted field assessments, observations, and evaluations of the soil and ground water in December 2017, and recommended closure.
Excavation will remain restricted at the site under Main Street and Clarkston Road, marked by four permanent ground-level signs. Water for residents in the area is provided by the Independence Township system.

2 Responses to "Case closed on 148, lawyer says"

  1. Cory Johnston   October 5, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    The attorney for the person who owns the property says the case is closed and the city offers no challenge? Are we just going to except it as true because an attorney representing a client says so? Is this really what the protection of health, safety and welfare in the Village of Clarkston has come to?
    We know there is pollution on the site. Their “expert” said so. We know it will be there for years into the future. Their expert said so. We know it has spread to Main Street and perhaps further. The designation is permanently affixed to the side of the road.
    We also know this is a use that does not conform to the city’s zoning as it is a commercial use surrounded by residential in an area that is and always has been zoned residential. This is all contrary to the city’s constant claims that this cannot happen but all approved by the city.
    The lights on the building shine several houses down the street in violation of the city’s zoning ordinance. The sound of power tools can be heard all day long from the adjacent homes. The cars are lined up like a commercial parking lot all day and night. The ponding water is over the road every time it rains and flows to the adjacent homes.
    The case is not in any way closed on 148 North Main but is probably what we will all have to live with for many, many years.

    Reply
  2. Neil Wallace   October 8, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    You’d think even a chirping squirrel could read this article and get the facts straight.

    The attorney did NOT say the “case is closed”. That was the paper’s headline. Although the paper did accurately report what I said—and yet the fear mongering continues, contrary to the facts.

    The decades old, shirking contamination plume has not spread in years and will NOT spread “further”. That is fact and science, not the irresponsible conjecture of that comment.

    Next, this property was NOT been “always zoned residential”. The fact is long before it was zoned as residential it was used as commercial auto repair and has been used that way continuously. The law recognizes that it would be an injustice for a City take away a continuously existing property use.

    The City had the opportunity to have a vastly improved use at that corner—which would have been a jewel. Why then did the City approve that site plan but then allow its consultants to torpedo it in violation of our contract? Perhaps there was a squirrel squeaking in their ears without checking the facts.

    The ever-decreasing decades-old contamination is not a threat to our community: the propaganda you choose to propagate from your blatantly political perch—well, that may be

    Any suggestion to the contrary is an intentional lie and slander. But no point suing a squirrel for damages when there are no nuts to collect from after the win.

    Neil Wallace

    Reply

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