2017-05-04 / Front Page

Storage tanks razed in Greilickville

Marathon mum on its plans
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


MARATHON PETROLEUM, which owns a 43-acre parcel on M-22 along the West Grand Traverse Bay waterfront, last week began demolishing dozens of fuel tanks on its property. MARATHON PETROLEUM, which owns a 43-acre parcel on M-22 along the West Grand Traverse Bay waterfront, last week began demolishing dozens of fuel tanks on its property. The look along M-22 as motorists head north into Leelanau County is changing.

Dozens of gasoline and diesel fuel tanks at the 43-acre Marathon Petroleum Corporation property on S. West Bay Shore Drive (M-22) in Greilickville are being demolished.

A spokesman for the corporation said the demolition began on April 25 and the project will be complete later this summer.

“A terminal has been in that location for several decades and was acquired by (Marathon Petroleum) in late 1999,” said corporate communications manager Jamal T. Kheiry.

“We’re demolishing the site because market conditions have changed such that there is no longer a need for the terminal,” Kheiry explained.

In fact, Marathon Petroleum ceased distributing fuel from the terminal in 2012, according to a 2012 Leelanau Enterprise report.

Asked what Marathon Petroleum plans to do with the site, Kheiry responded: “Certainly I can understand why you’d ask, but I’m afraid we don’t typically discuss our business plans in that regard publicly.”

This week, the owner of an 11-acre property immediately north of and abutting the Marathon Petroleum property announced that a $22 million 115- unit hotel and a 28-slip marina is planned on his property.

Traverse City developer Ron Walters said Marathon’s decision to begin demolition of its fuel depot on the property next to his own property was apparently a “coincidence,” and he didn’t know anything about it.

Elmwood Township Fire Chief Keith Tampa said he was notified about the demolition project last month and reviewed safety and emergency procedures with demolition contractors. Tampa said the fuel tanks have apparently been empty for a long time. He said all appropriate steps had been taken to clean any remnants of fuel and petroleum vapors out of the tanks and associated pipelines.

In March, Marathon Petroleum applied for and received a Soil Erosion permit from Leelanau County for some work that will be done in the weeks ahead on the site and the adjacent state highway. The work will include removing pipelines buried under M-22 that lead from the tank farm directly to an old fuel dock on the West Grand Traverse Bay waterfront.

Marathon Petroleum stopped distributing fuel from its tank depot in 2012, and no fuel barges have been seen at its dock since then. At the time, in 2012, a corporate spokesman pointedly discouraged any speculation about what might be done with the property – a position echoed by another corporate spokesman this week.

The head of the Leelanau County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Trudy Galla, said she and the authority have been working with Walters on his project, located on a former Zephyr Oil facility immediately north of the Marathon Petroleum facility. The brownfield authority may be able to provide Walters with tax incentives and low interest loans to help demolish old buildings on his site and clean up the property.

Galla said the Marathon Petroleum site would likely also qualify as a “brownfield,” but she had heard nothing from the company about its demolition project.

Similarly, Elmwood Township planner and zoning administrator Sara Kopriva said she was unaware of any plans Marathon Petroleum might have for the property beyond what was shared with the township fire chief.

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