Nestlé hearing set for Wednesday

Nestlé Waters North America Ice Mountain brand bottled water is seen on the production line at the Ice Mountain production facility in Stanwood in 2016. Nestlé Waters is asking a judge on Wednesday to overturn a decision by the Osceola Township Planning Commission to deny a booster station at the company’s White Springs production well in the township. (Pioneer File Photo)

REED CITY — Nestlé Waters North America, the parent company of the Ice Mountain water bottling brand, will ask a visiting judge this week to overturn a Osceola Township zoning permit denial.

Mason County 51st Circuit Court Judge Susan Sniegowski will hear arguments from NWNA lawyers at 2 p.m. in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court to void an April decision by the Osceola Township Planning Commission, according to the County Clerk’s Office. In April, the Planning Commission denied the water bottler’s request permit for a booster station at its White Pine Springs well in the township.

The booster pump would increase pressure along the water pipeline to transport additional water if the company’s permit to increase its water withdrawal capacity is approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The company did appeal the planning commission’s April decision; however, with a split vote, the township’s zoning board of appeals let the planning commission decisions stand.

In October, Arlene Anderson-Vincent, natural resource manager, Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water, said the company is confident in its case before the court and hopeful to have a resolution this fall.

“We believe that the booster station near the White Pine Springs well meets all zoning requirements and is in the best interest of all parties,” she said. “This 12-foot by 22-foot building would have the least impact on the local community and environment, if the increase in withdrawal capacity at the White Pine Springs well is approved by the MDEQ.”

In August, the company sought the township’s support of a motion in 49th Circuit Court to stay a decision by the planning commission. However, NWNA withdrew its motion when the township board did not support it.

At the time, Osceola Township Supervisor Tim Ladd said the issue may end up in front of a judge.

“The judge will have to look at the zoning, and decide if the planning commission followed the zoning ordinance or if it did not,” he said. “Then, we can go from there.”

Ladd explained the company’s original permit for the booster station was denied by the planning commission as it was applied under an agricultural permit. The permit did not pertain to animal consumption or irrigation, Ladd said. He added Nestlé’s second permit for the booster station was under essential services, and the planning commission and zoning board of appeals decided it didn’t meet the qualifications of essential services.

In July 2016, NWNA applied for a permit to increase water withdrawal from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gpm at the White Springs Well. Public comment was extended three separate times by the DEQ. A public information session and public hearing took place in April. The DEQ also has asked for additional information from Nestlé on three separate occasions, according to the DEQ website.

The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, a grassroots volunteer organization, is planning a silent vigil from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday at the Osceola County Courthouse to show its support of Osceola Township. A press conference is scheduled for 1:15 p.m.

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Posted by Brandon Fountain

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