Council approves ordinance amendments despite continued opposition

BURTON — The city council approved the second reading of amendments the city’s erosion and sediment control ordinance, despite the continued objects of a couple of council members.

The council voted 5-2 to approve the second reading of the ordinance, which was opposed two weeks ago by Councilman Tom Martinbianco, who called it “governmental overreach” by the Michigan Department of Environmental Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE).

Previously, Martinbianco called for the matter to be sent to the council’s legislative committee, but Mayor Duane Haskins said delaying approval of the first reading could place the city in a position where it would not be in compliance with an expected audit by EGLE.

Councilwoman Tina Conley, who joined Martinbianco last month in opposing the amendments, said she had further concerns about the matter because the initial notification from the state that the ordinance would need to be amended came in a letter dated April 10, 2020.

“We should have been told earlier, it’s been eight months,” said Conley. “I would have liked to see it go to the legislative committee. We had eight months, we could have been better informed and had more questions to ask.”

Councilman Danny Wells said if the council had been made aware of the changes sooner than last month, it would have had time to seek the legislative committee’s input and might not have struggled for the first reading approval in January.

“We have these committees for a reason,” said President Steve Heffner. “I know eight months is a lot of time and this could have been brought to the legislative committee. It’s a big document… a lot to take in. Give us more time in the future. Don’t give it to us and say this has got to pass in a month.”

Martinbianco reacted by moving to table the approval of the amended ordinance indefinitely, but that was rejected by a 4-3 vote.

He said he doesn’t think it’s right for the county to pass such mandates along on behalf of the state and no one on the council sees notification of it for so many months after the administration was made aware of the amendments.

Martinbianco also questioned why EGLE spends its time on matters such as this when there are bigger problems facing the state.

“EGLE would really benefit their time looking at the Kalamazoo River, or the Flint River crisis, or state flooding,” he said. “And what are they doing about dams?”

Conley and Martinbianco voted against approval of the amendments.