Trial set in Clinton Township class-action lawsuit against compost site

By Jameson Cook, The Macomb Daily

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

While Clinton Township has gained a deal to limit a compost facility’s operations, residents surrounding the site are hoping for a monetary reward for what they say is years of putting up with stench.

The township and Uni-Dig are in the process of finalizing a tentative agreement –- facilitated by a judge’s recent order — that would reduce Uni-Dig’s compost operation, which area residents complain regularly emits awful odors.

Meanwhile, a 1,000-plaintiff class-action lawsuit against Uni-Dig remains intact, with a trial date scheduled for June 3 before Judge Edward Servitto in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.

Plaintiffs include owners of homes within .7 of a mile from Uni-Dig’s location on Quinn Road east of Gratiot Avenue.

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs is confident his clients will be awarded millions for the damage to their lifestyle over the past half-dozen years. The odor has come from a massive compost pile at Uni-Dig, the plaintiffs say.

“It’s going to be in the several-million dollar range for their loss of use and enjoyment of their property,” said Tuesday. “They can’t sit outside and have a barbecue. That has value. The smell gets into their home. That has value.”

He said plaintiffs have difficulties selling their homes for the right value due to the smells.

Meanwhile, five plaintiffs in two separate lawsuits that were merged each agreed to accept $2,500 as a settlement from Uni-Dig. That was the amount recommended in case evaluation.

And in the lawsuit filed by the township, Judge Servitto in January ordered the tentative settlement to be made permanent by May 1 while also ruling that Uni-Dig could not operate as it has under its zoning.

Uni-Dig’s attorney, Jay Schwartz, declined to comment on the deal’s details, saying he would wait until it has been approved by Uni-Dig’s corporate officers and the township board.

“We have reached a global agreement to resolve everything and are trying to get it finalized,” he said.

Township officials said last month Servitto’s ruling limits Uni-Dig to 20,000 cubic yards of compost materials on the site, compared to the current 63,000 cubic yards. Any existing materials beyond the limit must be removed.

Outside storage of materials also is restricted to seven acres of the 14-acre site, officials said. Uni-Dig must submit a site plan to show the exact location or outdoor storage and composting.

Copyright © The Macomb Daily

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