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.