Maker of Jiffy Mix Eyes Brownfield Property in Michigan for Redevelopment

A former auto parts manufacturer is slated to become the new home of the makers of Jiffy Mix. Although the site is classified as a brownfield, the Buchanan North Warehouse in Chelsea, Michigan may be the recipient of a multi-million dollar redevelopment project by Jiffy Mix.

Howdy Holmes, CEO of Jiffy Mix, is looking to redevelop the contaminated site into temperature-controlled food storage and shipping including the construction of nine new silos. The City Council of Chelsea must consider the redevelopment project. If the redevelopment project is approved by the City Council, the Chelsea will receive an increase in property taxes by $56,000 per year, and Jiffy Mix will pay a lowered annual property tax rate for sixteen years.

The City Council has already approved the initial redevelopment plan proposed by Jiffy Mix, but full approval is expected on Tuesday night. Jiffy Mix must also receive approval from the County Brownfield Authority and Washenaw County Board of Commissioners.

A “brownfield” is a former industrial property that is no longer in operation. The classification as a “brownfield” typically follows properties that have extensive environmental contamination that may include industrial solvents, lead and asbestos. Brownfields are classified as such because the property may be reused after remediation or clean up of the toxic materials. Often the pollution caused by asbestos and other chemicals is the result of former industrial occupants leaving the material on the property, allowing the toxins to seep into the ground and water.

Though highly toxic and classified as a carcinogen, asbestos was a common material used in the production of vehicle parts. From disc brakes to clutches, asbestos was regularly manufactured into automobile parts. Not only was asbestos inexpensive alternative to other automobile components, asbestos is naturally provides heat resistance and insulating properties, crucial factors in the manufacturing of vehicle parts that undergo considerable friction. Although widespread asbestos use has been banned in the United States since the 1980s, asbestos is often a part of brownfield contamination. Ensuring that asbestos, along with other potentially lethal materials, is safely abated is critical: exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is nearly always fatal.

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