MARSHALL, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – A Calhoun County Judge has ruled against initial complaints from the Committee for Marshall – Not the Megasite seeking approval for a petition against a land transfer, which could have significant consequences for the development of the Ford BlueOval Battery Park Plant scheduled to be built in Marshall, MI.
The court proceedings began after the plaintiff, the Committee for Marshall – Not the Megasite claims to have gathered more than 800 signatures for a petition against a recent decision by the City of Marshall to rezone land for use other than agricultural land, and also allocate funds to be used towards the Ford Blue Oval Battery Park Plant in Marshall. The defendants are the City of Marshall, and City of Marshall Clerk, Michelle Eubank, who did not grant the group a letter of sufficiency for the petition.
After several hearings, Judge William Marietti of the 37th Circuit Court has issued his latest opinion affirming the court’s decision to deny the plaintiff’s request.
“This court will not exercise its discretionary equitable powers to facilitate a scheme that violates the City Charter and flouts Supreme Court precedent,” Judge Marietti wrote.
Judge Marietti’s opinion also detailed that the Petitioners had filed for a writ of mandamus, a court order for the Marshall City Clerk, Ms. Michelle Eubanks, to certify “the sufficiency of the petitions for a referendum on ordinance 2023-08 which rezones a large parcel to industrial use and provides an appropriation for building inspections and site plan review.”
He later said that there is an alternative method viable to obtaining a certificate of sufficiency, and because a mandamus is not the only way, the writ was denied.
According to a supporter of the Committee for Marshall – Not the Megasite, Glenn Kowalske, the general sentiment after the ruling is the same as his feelings towards the push for Marshall to accept the project as detailed by the Detroit Free Press.
“If I think about the emotional part, I think it makes most of us both angry and also, I don’t want to say, hopeless,” Kowalske said. “But from the standpoint that things are completely out of our control, and that the opposition is massive.”
The Court also ruled that the inclusion of an appropriation in addition to the rezoning element was valid, despite the plaintiff’s claims.
“If the zoning involved in Ordinance 2023-08 was for agricultural, conservancy or recreational purposes there might be a viable argument that there is no direct relationship to an appropriation for site review or building inspections,” Judge Marietti wrote.
Furthermore, the appropriation was deemed appropriate because of the rezoning of the parcel, indicating clearly the contemplation of “development of the property with industrial/ manufacturing facilities,” according to Judge Marietti.
Legal Counsel for the Petitioners, Robby Dube, weighed in on the court’s opinion sharing his perspective.
“I respectfully believe the Court is wrong on the law,” he said to Michigan News Source, “I am especially disappointed that the Court once again declined to rule on the City’s unconstitutional refusal to count Petitioners’ valid signatures.”
He also clarified that the complaint was dismissed but not the case as a whole, instead Petitioners were given leave to file a new complaint, which they have filed.
“[The new complaint] adds new facts and two new claims,” Dube said in the interview.
He shared his expectations should the judge issue a final judgement ending the case after considering the new complaint.
“As I have said all along, this case is not about the Megasite, it is about election and constitutional rights, and I am confident that, should Petitioners choose to appeal, they will prevail,” Dube said in a statement to Michigan News Source.
The court will now consider the new complaints and determine the next court date with input from the plaintiff and defense.