Target 8 finds Montcalm Co. violated own dumping rules

The county-owned site along North County Line Road in Belvidere Township were work crews dumped debris from demolished park bathrooms. (July 5, 2017)

BELVIDERE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Montcalm County plans to clean up a county property following a call from Target 8.

In June, the county tore down the bathrooms at Schmeid Park, which sits along the north side of Townline Lake in northern Montcalm County, because they were in disrepair. Instead of going to a landfill, county work crews dumped the bathroom debris half a mile down the road at a county-owned property at the intersection of Robin Drive and North County Line/Eisenhower Road. It is land often used to dump leaves and brush, but the piles of wood, screws and bolts from the old bathrooms stand out.

“It shouldn’t be trashed like that,” said Brad Wernette, who lives down the road from dump site.

He saw the crews at work and became concerned with what he was witnessing:

“I come across them tearing down the bathrooms at the park and then I seen them back in here and start dumping it.”

Wernette said he asked the work crew why they were dumping the old bathrooms on the corner lot.

“One said it was his orders to dump it here, the other one says its biodegradable and the supervisor stood right there and wouldn’t say a word,” he said.

Wernette said he called the county to complain. When that didn’t work, he turned to Target 8.

“Everybody thinks it’s a community dump, and this community doesn’t need more rubbish around,” he said.

When Target 8 stopped by, there was already trash laying among the old bathrooms.

On Wednesday, Target 8 reached out to Montcalm County Administrator Robert Clingenpeel, who explained the bathrooms were torn down because they were unsafe. He told Target 8 the wood was rotting and is biodegradable. He defended the decision to dump the old bathrooms on the corner lot.

However, he changed his opinion after Target 8 pointed out that the dumping appears to violate Montcalm County’s own junk and rubbish ordinance. The ordinance bans the accumulation and storage of “junk” or “rubbish” on any public property.

“The term ‘junk’ is defined as old metal, wood or any other material that because of being discarded, obsolete, or disrepair, is no longer practical to use,” the ordinance reads in part.

Clingenpeel told Target 8 he will have county crews remove the piles of wood and dispose of them properly.

As to why they chose that location in the first place, Clingenpeel says it was the closest.

When asked, he said it was not related to the county’s recent budget issues and staffing cuts.