LANSING — Osceola Township won a dispute with Nestle Waters North America.
The Michigan Court of Appeals, in an unpublished opinion Tuesday, reversed a Circuit Court decision that would allow Nestle to build a booster station in Osceola Township.
Nestle has been trying to build a booster station in Osceola Township that would allow the company to pump and move more water but the township has argued that it's not allowed under their zoning ordinance.
The case has been going on for years; the Circuit Court made its decision almost two years ago, in December of 2017. The Court of Appeals agreed in July of 2018 to hear the case and issued its decision Tuesday.
The Circuit Court originally ruled that "water was essential and plaintiff’s commercial bottling operation supplied a public demand, so plaintiff’s proposed booster pump facility was an essential public service," according to the unpublished opinion from the Court of Appeals, which disagreed, calling it "clearly erroneous."
While water is essential to human life, the Court of Appeals said, bottled water is not, except for where there is no water source.
Another Nestle case, regarding the Department of Environmental Quality (now the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE)) decision to give Nestle a permit to increase the amount of water it pumps, is still working its way through the appeals process. The decision is expected in February 2020.
Nestle Waters North America issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon, attributed to Ice Mountain Natural Resource Manager Arlene Anderson-Vincent.:
"Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) is disappointed in the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling, which reversed the decision of the Circuit Court. We firmly believe that the Circuit Court was correct in ordering Osceola Township to issue a permit for our request to build a small, 12-foot by 22-foot building, to house a booster pump. We believe the plan we proposed met the Township’s site plan and special land use standards. We will evaluate our possible next steps in the legal process.
"From the beginning, our goal with this request has been to reduce, as much as possible, any impact to the local community and the environment. In addition, the structure would be a positive contribution and would provide additional tax revenue to Osceola Township. Nestlé Waters has worked to be a good neighbor to Osceola Township for over 17 years. We value our relationships with Township residents and community leaders, and always strive to create shared value within the communities where we operate."