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Posted on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Owner: Petroleum company to leave Ypsilanti Township after treatment over gas spill

By Tom Perkins

An Ypsilanti Township businessman responsible for a July 3 accident that spilled 1,000 gallons of gasoline into a lot next to Michigan Avenue says his business is leaving town after poor treatment from township officials over the incident.

Sloan Petroleum owner Woody Sloan, who owns five properties in the township, also said he is putting all his other properties up for sale.


More than 1,000 gallons of gasoline were spilled July 3 in Ypsilanti Township when two tankers collapsed on each other.

Courtney Sacco |

After the July 3 spill, the township filed a lawsuit asking a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to issue a temporary restraining order requiring the company to cease all operations related to storing and shipping petroleum.

The property has numerous code violations, and a judge is also ordering the property be brought up to code. Sloan said he is complying with the order.

Sloan said he was also sent a $17,000 bill for the cleanup, which has been turned over to his insurance company. Ypsilanti Township Attorney Dennis McLain said more bills could be on the way because the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has evidence that groundwater may have been affected.

"One thing is certain — he owes that money clearly under the township's cost recovery ordinance," McLain said.

Sloan said he has cooperated with the township throughout the cleanup process and said his business was inspected when he started operating there. He added he has always complied with what township officials have asked, so he didn’t understand the lawsuit that was brought against him.

“I did get a bill for $17,000 and already turned it over to my insurance company and they’re paying it,” Sloan said. “The TRO - I did get one. All my equipment has been moved to a new location. The cleanup is already done, the contaminated soil is out of there. They just have to run a few tests.”

He said the lawsuit was unnecessary and was upset by the language in a letter township attorney Doug Winters sent to Sloan's attorney, Jim Fink.

Sloan said he was particularly insulted by a line in which Winters was describing the amount of debris and abandoned vehicles on the property that stated the site included a "burned truck cab minus the windshield, door and backend that appears to have been there since the Al Capone era."

“When you have an accident everyone jumps on bandwagon,” Sloan said. “I have insurance coverage, I called Hazmat right away and covered it. I did everything by the book.”

McLain contended Sloan wasn't doing everything by the book because a petroleum storage business was never approved to operate there.

Sloan was storing the trailers at 3105 E. Michigan Ave. illegally. Storage of tanker trucks hauling hazardous materials isn't allowed on the property, which is zoned B3 commercial/retail, McLain stressed.

No site plans were ever submitted to the township and McLain added that any plans would have been rejected. McLain said Sloan "failed to do his due diligence researching township ordinances before he bought the property."

"It's very clear in that portion of the zoning code what is allowed," McLain said. "Had he come to the township and said 'This is what I'm doing, this is what I want to use property for,' then he could’ve avoided the township discovering what he was doing later."

The accident occurred when heavy rain caused the ground underneath the tankers to become too soft to support the jack holding the front axle of the tankers. One tanker fell and knocked over a second tanker. That destroyed the plumbing system under the first, causing it to spill 1,000 of the 9,000 gallons of gasoline it contained. The second tank, which also contained 9,000 gallons of gasoline, was not punctured.

No one suffered any injuries.

Sloan said his five properties — which include residential, commercial and industrial parcels — will be listed this week. He said his real estate agent at Belleville-based Huron Valley Real Estate is determining an asking price for parcels. Records show the two-acre property at 3105 E. Michigan Ave. has an assessed value of $53,000.

Winters was indignant when he learned Sloan was upset over his treatment and said the township is not pleased that emergency responders' safety was put at risk and officials had to clean up the mess on a holiday weekend.

"The markets are getting active again so he’ll probably be successful in selling his properties," Winters said. "I don’t know what township he's moving to but I wish them luck."

Sloan said the property was dilapidated when he bought it in 2004 and he brought it up to code.

“They even inspected it, and now they’re actually running me out of here,” Sloan said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with the building. In two months or less every window is going to busted out again and the property is going to be stripped unless I can get someone in here to rent or sell it and be done with it.”

Winters maintained that Sloan needs to address the remaining issues at the site.

"The fact that Mr. Sloan plans to relocate this operation to another site certainly does not do anything to address the mess that currently exists at 3105 E. Michigan Avenue ...," Winters said.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the news desk at


The Picker

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Apparently only hate toward this guy is allowed in these comments you're pathetic


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

What's pathetic is someone clearing violating law, thinking they can get away with it forever.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

just another example of how Sloan operates. How many remember woody's gas(water) station in the 70's and 80's downtown Belleville? Good riddance to a person/company that continually disregards all statutes and ordinances that are inconvenient to their operation.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

Buh bye, Woody! Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya!


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

By the book means not checking with local code for storing fuel?


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

Go to China where you can do just about anything. Sadly that is where are good paying jobs went to.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

Okay so he's leaving town because his feelings were hurt? Yeah. Peace out. Have fun wherever you land.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

Anybody notice the unprofessional comments made by the Ypsilanti Township Attorney Winters? Wow!


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

I won't be losing sleep over this.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

I sounds to me that Sloan is going the ol' "crying over spilled milk" route. Guess what? This isn't milk. And...seeing that Fink is his attorney I'm sure there is some "sour milk" on the table as he wasn't reelected last go around and quite possibly might be a bit touchy. So goes politics.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

"safe" storage


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

These stinking government regulations. If you want save storage of hazardous materials, move to Havana.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

Or China or Mexico which the big corporations did. The EPA and OSHA have cost us so many jobs and here folks just want to blame unions


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

I don't know this man at all, so as to him as a person I have no comment. If this property was in such bad shape and he had illegal tanks stored there surely the township has driven past a few times, it is right on Michigan ave. in plain site.. Seems to me , they could have sent him a notice and asked him to come in. Storing filled tankers like that... ummm even I would know better. Why do we always hear this chest pumping he-man stupid verbation from the township lawyers,, makes them sound and look like little bullies in a suit.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

I must disagree with most of the previous comments. I have long decried the egotistical, overbearing attitudes of many public officials. It appears they seek public office, not out of any altruistic intent, but because the pay is good and they can tell everybody else what to do. Here is a man trying to make a living and provide employment in the community, and he's treated like a pariah.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

So you won't mind if his spilled fuel gets into your drinking water?


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

"Here is a man trying to make a living and provide employment [while disregarding safety regulations for the storage and keeping of hazardous toxic materials] in the community" Fixed. I suggest you go live wherever this latest John Galt of Ypsi lands. Just be sure to by your water from the store and stay upwind and you should be ok.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

Paul, so the only choice is ignore hazardous materials laws or become a criminal?


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

So he's John Galt now, a victim of a confederacy of public official dunces stifling his humble greatness? Nice job of framing this event within the narrative of your ideology.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

tammrm, you got it right on. The cities seem to go out of their way to prevent business growth and sadly many folks seem not to care. Then when people are out of work and resort to a life of crime, folks get upset and blame the criminals and for good reasons but they fail to see the root of the problem.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

"trying to make a living and provide employment" So he should just be allowed to pollute away where ever he pleases? Yeah, I don't think so...see ya Woody!

Pete Larson

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

"he's treated like a pariah" If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, its a duck.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Egotistical or overbearing politicians aside, that guy was storing gasoline where he shouldn't have been storing it. Most states (except for Texas it appears.. see town blown up by fertilizer explosion) have rules about where you can store dangerous things. He clearly was not abiding by the law and is upset that he might get in trouble for it.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

Give it a break. He either knew he was in violation of the law or he was ignorant of the law, which is no excuse. If he's going to be in the business of petroleum transport, then it's his responsibility to know and abide by all the pertinent laws.

Chase Ingersoll

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Bureaucracies will often take an aggressive posture after an accident, after deliberately looking the other way prior to the event. What Tom might ask is, "Where is the original site plan,? Who approved it? What sort of hazmat training or certification does that person have? If they don't have the training - then that is a problem. If they have the training - then why wasn't the property cited for a corrective zoning application prior to the accident?


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

According to the article site was never approved for tank storage. No site plan was submitted to the township and the site was not zoned for storage of hazardous materials. As for training, why bother? just move to another town when you damage the site. It appears he was just not caught violating zoning. I am not sure you can expect bureaucracies to find every lawbreaker.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

The contrast in treatment compared to the repair station that was intentionally dumping gasoline down the storm sewer, plus other unknown leaking chemicals, is dramatic. The penalty in the repair station case seemed very minor.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Sayonara, Woody! Just be sure to clean up all of your messes before you leave. Don't let the door hit you in the behind on the way out, tho'.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

What a cry baby. Doesn't want to play by the rules so he'll just go where there are less rules.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Yep just like GM and others have been doing over the last few decades.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

I'm sure there is plenty of Koch land near Grand Rapids that would be happy to be polluted for the right price.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

@ Superior - Pot, meet kettle

Superior Twp voter

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

How bizarre. Only you would bring somebody/politics into this. You really are a hater.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

By the look of all the thumbs down it seems Sloan and his employees are online here

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

" a letter township attorney Doug Winters sent to Sloan's attorney, Jim Fink.... Winters....stated the site included a "burned truck cab minus the windshield, door and backend that appears to have been there since the Al Capone era." I'm not defending Sloan in any way. But that Al Capone crack seems pretty unprofessional in a correspondence between the Township and the "defendant" . That is a crack a knucklehead like me can use in here or on Facebook but it doesn't seem proper in an exchange between two attorneys in a legal issue.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

Kind of like Winters describing the City of Ypsilanti as having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. A real bright spot for Ypsi Township.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

I was thinking the same thing, Craig!


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

I agree that such letters should remain professional. But I learned a long time ago that just because someone is an attorney doesn't mean he or she will behave like a respectible grown-up.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

and that is a Winter's specialty! This is all peacock show (between lawyers that are friends btw) and not much in terms of legal wrangling and thus why he's insulted and pissed off.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:25 a.m.

Good riddance.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:22 a.m.



Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

It's akin to "I'm taking my toys, and I'm going home." How did he not know storing those tanks on a dirt surface was a bad idea? I don't let my five year old play with fire, and this guy should not be dealing with hazardous materials.

Big Dog

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

Lookout Superior Twp., Belleville, Augusta Twp and Sumpter Twp. Be forewarned!

Chaz H

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

Don't forget your paci and your blanky Mr Sloan!


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

Go south young man, go south.


Sat, Aug 3, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

Or louisiana!


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

or Texas where regulation is a dirty word


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:51 a.m.

If this is the attitude Sloan has toward those enforcing a law he clearly violated, then I say good riddance.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:39 a.m.

Don't let the door hit you in the butt when you go.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:39 a.m.

He added he has always complied with what township officials have asked, so he didn't understand the lawsuit that was brought against him. Breaking the law and then asking for forgiveness is not an excuse. Ever heard of BP Oil?


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:29 a.m.