A Detroit, Michigan, company which specializes in providing construction and aggregate materials in bulk quantities is presently seeking permission from the city of Detroit to create piles of bulk material up to 100 feet in height. Current city regulations restrict the stockpiling of bulk materials to eight feet.

Zoning issues between private businesses and municipal authorities occur frequently because both sides rarely share similar goals. In this situation, the company has told the city that it wants to store salt, asphalt, limestone and other materials at a height resembling a 10-storey building on a location near the river and just east of the Ambassador Bridge. That is nine times higher than currently allowed. This request for the variance also comes on the heels of the discovery last year that the same company had been illegally stockpiling petroleum coke or petcoke near at that same location near the waterfront.

The bulk storage company now says that it has no intention of going back to putting the banned crude-oil byproduct at the site and is instead seeking a waiver of the height restrictions to store other supplies. Apparently, during the time the bulk company was illegal storing the petcoke, it had obtained a variance waiver from the city to stack it between 30- to 40-feet high.

Either way, this is likely to become a hotly contested zoning fight because of the following issues:

— The same person who owns the site where the petcoke was previously stored also owns the Ambassador Bridge.

— The bridge owner leases the property out to a railroad company who, in turn, then leases it out to the bulk storage company.

— If allowed, the 10-storey piles would face Windsor’s riverfront parks and homes, just a kilometer across the river.

This case is an excellent example of the importance of zoning laws and how good, competent legal representation can have substantial positive effects.

Source: The Windsor Star, “Petcoke storage company appeals to put 10-storey piles on riverfront” Dave Battagello, Apr. 06, 2014

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