State attention and recall effort has Plainfield Township board changing its tune

Posted at 9:50 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 21:50:43-05

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- With growing attention from the state and residents angry over lack of action on the township's water supply, board members of Plainfield Township say they're changing how they communicate with residents.

In the past, many Plainfield Township residents have accused some members of the Plainfield Township Board of lacking transparency and using intimidation tactics to keep them quiet on the contaminated water issue. These sentiments have led to a recall effort toward Supervisor Robert Homan and Trustee Sue Morrow.

“You guys poisoned me. You’re doing it on purpose. You’ve done it for a very long time. Especially you, Mr. Homan," Travis Brown, a concerned resident, said to the board on Monday night's meeting.

The blame for Plainfield Township's water contamination issue isn't just being placed on the companies that did the dumping but also on the township's leaders, who many accuse of refusing to take action even when they knew their residents were in danger.

“I work my butt off trying to provide for my child and myself, trying to get my daughter through college, in the back of my mind, thinking, you folks -- the government -- aren’t taking care of the needs, such as clean water."

Since the recall effort led by resident Cody Angell, some board members have changed their tune.

“We know that the water issue is your primary concern, and it is our primary concern, too," Supervisor Robert Homan told the audience at the start of Monday's meeting.

Homan's statement is a major shift from just a few months ago, when he asserted that the water is fine and meets all standards. He's been known by some residents to prove his point by taking a sip of water when residents argued against him in board meetings.

“When all this came out several months ago, I called the township several times and said, ‘Is my water safe where I’m at?’" one resident said. "And when I was able to get in touch with someone, they said, ‘It’s fine, no worries, don’t worry about it.'"

Now, the state is stepping in to take part in Plainfield Township's effort to install a municipal filter to remove PFAS, a chemical known to potentially cause cancer. Township Attorney Doug Van Essen says Gov. Rick Snyder's office has expressed interest in expediting the process of installing the filter.

“I think we’re making steady progress on the filtering front, and I think we’re making steady progress with Wolverine Worldwide," Van Essen says.

After the open meeting on Monday night, the board entered a closed session to discuss the performance of Superintendent Cameron Van Wyngarden, who called the review.

In another attempt to better communicate with residents, the township is hosting an open table discussion with residents on Monday, January 29, at Northview High School to allow board members and residents to focus specifically on the water issue. Van Essen and engineers who work for the township will serve as experts to help answer questions.