Owner: Petroleum company to leave Ypsilanti Township after treatment over gas spill
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.
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.