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Orion Township trustees plan for eco-friendly future

January 05, 2011 - Gabriel Ouzounian

Review staff writer

Orion Township is trying to be more environmentally concious, and with the help of their renamed environmental committee, they're hoping to maintain the area with a greener attitude.

In April 2010, the Orion Township Board of Trustees changed the name of their Solid Waste and Recycling Committee to the Orion Township Environmental Resources Committee (OTERC) to broaden it's purpose and alter its direction.

At the trustee meeting on Monday, Dec. 3, the new board chairperson, Heather Muzzy, expanded on what she and the committee were doing represent the new moniker by introducing new ideas and proposing new committee bylaws.

Muzzy had been trying to join the committee for some time, and once in, she quickly rose to the position of chairperson, being officially designated as such in January. Yet Muzzy was adamant that the committee needed more members

"The committee before really just gave consultation to the board from board members who cared [about the environment] and community members who cared but it was very irregular in terms of where they met, when they met, and who showed up," said Muzzy. "A bunch of the old crew have fizzled out for various reasons, so we're trying to recruit more members with a skill or knowledge that they can offer the committee."

Recruiting was just one topic OTERC discussed at the meeting to help describe what the committee was doing to remain effective. During the presentation, Muzzy covered topics such as board organization, accomplishments, future plans, and problems that afflict the township, such as the proliferation of Phragmites - a quickly growing, wide spread, tough plant.

"They grow tall like cattails but they grow thicker and denser and wild life cannot live where they grow because of this," said Muzzy. "There are a few different approaches to controlling them, like multiple brush cuttings every year, prescribed burns, which obviously need a professional, or using an herbicide, but that requires a DNRE permit.

"The burns are actually environmentally friendly, more so obviously than the herbicide, and even though you have to hire a professional, it's more cost effective [than the herbicides.]"

Other subjects broached by Muzzy included pros and cons of township utilization of the RecycleBank Program, a website that offers points for recycling which can be exchanged for merchandise, and the pending construction of the Eagle Valley landfill Renewable Energy Plant.

Despite the breadth of the presentation, some boardmembers, including Joann Van Tassel and Neil Porter, thought that more review of the proposed bylaws was needed before they approved the changes.

Van Tassel expressed concerns about the wording in the by laws, particularly clauses that she felt made it sound as if the committee was operating without board approval.

"There is a phrase that says 'these bylaws are adopted by the Orion Township Resources Committee,'" said Van Tassel. "I propose that you add to that 'and approved by the Orion Township Board of Trustees' so that there is clear understanding that one of our commissions does not have the authority to just go adopt whatever they want."

Other than the typographical concerns, other boardmembers worried how money would be allocated to the group.

Until those changes are made, OTERC will have to wait to orchestrate their ideas.

The Board of Trustees will revisit the topic at the next board meeting on January 18.

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