September 11, 2013 - Groveland Twp.-At 17-years-old Barry Bass was troubled when he watched trash leaving the recycling facility, headed to a landfill.
"My first job was with SOCCRA (Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority), said Bass, a Waterford native. "I could realize the necessity of recycling 35 years ago as a teen. I remember thinking that someday there would be a niche in the market and landfill materials would all someday be used again."
On Monday night Bass and his township company Bedrock Express came one step closer to keeping landfills a lot smaller.
By a 5-0 vote, the board of trustees OK'd the sale of 41.8 acres of township property off Shields Road near Dixie Highway to Bass for $501,720. Ground breaking is expected in March for a 10,000 square foot facility near the Consumers Energy facility and Tri-City Aggregate offices.
The new Bedrock Recycling office and warehouse facility will incorporate about 100 different bins for products ranging from cardboard, to building demolition to plastics. Bass estimated about ten new employees would be hired for the location.
"You'd be surprised what can be turned into product," he said. "For example, we'll take used tires which are often difficult to get rid of—they can be cleaned and turned into energy or other products."
All kinds of wood products are a big part of the recycling business, added Bass. Wooden pallets used in industry, lumber from homes and even trees brush cut from storms are ground up and burned in a cogeneration plant producing steam power.
"The electricity made is then put back on the grid," he said. "We've been utilizing cogeneration for many years, now we hope to expand that process with more products."
Bass and other recycling experts estimate 95 percent of all materials that go to landfills could be reused.
"In 30 years landfills will be long gone," added Bass.
Bob DePalma, township supervisor, was pleased with the sale of the property and the business expansion.
"It's going to be a good project for the community," he said. "There's a demand for the recycling operation and the green initiative in today's market."
The township spent about $13,000 for Dragon Environmental Corporation to evaluate the property.
"The report on the property all came back clean," DePalma reported to the board on Monday night. "It had been our goal since the property came from Stablex to get the land back on the tax rolls. Hopefully this will jump start more business growth in the area."
Since the 1970s, rumors and proposals for a Groveland-Holly township landfill have met resistance from area officials including DePalma.
In December 1980, Stablex Corporation, an England-based corporation, drew the ire of township residents when they proposed a waste disposal plant in the township. The target area for the chemical plant dedicated to neutralizing toxic industrial waste into inert matter was the junction of Grange Hall Road and I-75. The project was later dashed, but cost the township about $400,000 in legal fees. However, Stablex walked away from their 191 acres of township property leaving a property tax bill of about $10,000.
"The property was in bad shape—a moonscape with craters and steel retaining wall material scattered around. We sold the steel for about $5,000 I remember. Since that time the 191 acres has been township property."
In July 2008, the township board considered three offers on the 191 acres of township property and accepted a bid for about $4 million. The deal also included a $750,000 allowance to the township for the construction of a new firehouse. In addition, terms of the deal include drinking water to be brought to the site from the Detroit Water and Sewer Department and the development of a special assessment district for a wastewater plant. The development, named Stonehenge Pass, LLC, will be owned by area businessmen Barry Bass, Robert Gilling and Thomas Kenny.
However, the project fizzled when the economy tanked in 2009. Since that time the township has been working with Bass to secure a portion of the property.
"The other 150 acres is still for sale," he said. "The right buyer will come along."