About 25 recycling bins for gently used clothing and shoes will be put up around Van Buren Township in the near future and the township will get 6 cents per pound for the donations.
At the township board’s regular meeting on Aug. 21, the board voted unanimously to sign the one-year contract with Midwest Recycling, based in Inkster.
Township Supervisor Kevin McNamara was absent from the regular meeting because his wife had just been released from the hospital, but at the work/study meeting the day before he was in favor of the proposal.
On Aug. 20, Jim Godbout, Midwest vice president of municipal public relations and president of the Westland City Council, explained the project to the board at its work/study session.
On Aug. 21, Abe Hachem, president of Midwest, explained the recycling and answered questions from the board at its regular meeting.
Hachem said it is estimated that 85% of used clothing now goes to landfills, but with his project it will be exported overseas and used. He estimated VBT would get more than $10,000 a year for the donations.
He said the bins will be serviced every five to seven days and a telephone number will be on each bin, so those who have a complaint or want the bin emptied can call. He said since their office is just 20 minutes away, someone could come out within a few hours to check on the bin. If the call is at the end of the work day, they would come the next day.
Township Trustee Paul White said there have been messes around such containers in the past and Hachem said they take pride in what they do and will tend to problems when called.
Hachem said all the drivers take pictures of the bins to record their condition.
“And, a real person answers the phone, not a machine,” said Trustee Sherry Frazier, relaying the information given by Godbout the day before.
“We live in a materialistic society,” said Trustee Frazier. “We buy, buy, buy. This way we can give to someone in need.”
On Aug. 20, Godbout said he goes into the schools with an educational program on recycling and he’s done cable to educate the community.
He said Midwest offers the service to VBT at no cost and will perform upkeep on the bins and locations. He said the bins are emptied weekly and weighed. Checks are sent out to the township each month, starting with the first month. He said Westland received $18,000 last year and saved money in tipping fees at the landfill.
Godbout said Midwest will work with the township on the color of the bins and design. VBT’s logo will be on each bin, he said.
Supervisor McNamara at the Aug. 20 meeting said the contract can be canceled with 90 days notice.
Besides Westland, bins are in Orion Township, Inkster, with Garden City and Romulus in the works. Godbout said they just started branching out this year and now have about 2,000 bins in place.
Godbout said the clothes and shoes are taken to their warehouse, bound up and sent to places like Chile, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Egypt, where people sort them and distribute them. He said the well-worn clothes are set aside as rags, the shoes are shined, other items fixed up for resale.
He said Midwest gives 6 cents per pound to the municipalities and gets about 25 to 30 cents per pound, depending on the market. He said they fill a 4,200-pound container per week and have 35 to 40 employees between Michigan and Ohio.
Trustee White said there are people who are needy in their own township and the township shouldn’t be supporting another business.
“It’s not in the right mode for the township to make profit off another business,” White said.
Godbout said Midwest doesn’t impact Goodwill, Salvation Army, and others and it works with a lot of churches. He said there are times Goodwill gives them extra clothes it doesn’t need.
Trustee Frazier said it’s more convenient for people to drop off clothes on their way to a local store than to make a special trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army locations.
Godbout said Midwest signs contracts with locations where the bins will be put.
In other business at the 53-minute regular meeting on Aug. 21, the board:
• Removed from the agenda a resolution to increase the hourly attorney fee for the firm of Butzel Long from $300 to $375 an hour. Treasurer Sharry Budd, who was chairing the meeting in the supervisor’s absence, said they are sending the proposal to the VBT Local Development Finance Authority to review the move and give a recommendation to the board. Kaveh Kashef, the attorney who has been handling the township’s lawsuit against Visteon, changed law firms, causing the higher rate. VBT’s law suit against Visteon on the looming bond payments was turned down by the Wayne County Circuit Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals last year. Kashef currently is seeking to have the case heard by the Michigan Supreme Court;
• Approved the Stormwater Maintenance Agreement between the township and Speedway, which is under construction at the northeast corner of Belleville and Tyler roads;
• Approved the Police Officers Labor Council (POLC) four-year collective bargaining agreement;
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance to rezone an eight-acre parcel at 9275 Haggerty Road, at the northeast corner at Tyler Road, from C-1 General Business to OT, Office Technology. This is the proposed site of the US Signal data center. The building will be 25,000 square feet at first and eventually expand to 100,000 square feet. The building will hold computer gear aimed at protecting customer data and will be run by from one to six employees, said Dave Wisz of US Signal;
• Approved first reading of an ordinance that changes the zoning ordinance to add the High Tech, Data Processing, and Computer Centers use to the M-1 Light Industrial zoning district. This is a staff-suggested change to update the zoning ordinance;
• Approved special land use to operate a drive-through restaurant at 10573 and 10551 Belleville Road. The development will be a strip mall, similar to the nearby Starbuck’s building, with six tenants and a drive through on one end. It is just north of Belle Tire;
• Approved the petition and resolution for the abandonment of a portion of Denton Drain as required by law. The head of the drain will be built over as part of “Project Pancake” at the former Smith Farm in Denton and the water on the site carried by the project’s stormwater system to the drain farther on. This abandonment petition will cost the township under $1,000 for filing, said Matt Best, Director of Public Services;
• Heard John Delaney say under public comment that there is a drain that was abandoned in 2012 for the proposed co-gen project at Grace Lake, that was never brought back and it has been left plugged up with trees knocked down at that site. Delaney also referred to the Haggerty Road “destruction area” north of Tyler Road where there has been no work in two weeks and now has deep potholes; and
• Also heard Delaney thank the board members for sending the proposed raise in rate for an attorney to the LDFA for a recommendation. Delaney said Supervisor McNamara kept him from entering the closed session on the law suit against Visteon, although he is a member of the LDFA and another LDFA member was allowed in that closed-door session. Delaney pointed out he is the secretary of LDFA and should have been allowed into the meeting to take confidential notes on the law suit that involves the LDFA. Clerk Leon Wright said board members did not realize that Delaney was refused entry to the meeting.