NILES -- One man's trash is another man's treasure.
Or perhaps, in the case of a Niles area business, another man's business.
That's how the situation is stacking up at the Szucs Concrete Crusher enterprise in the 1400 block of Michigan 139 (Old U.S. 31 North), just south of the Dowagiac River. Niles Township officials say complaints about unsightly conditions will culminate in a 7 p.m. Tuesday session of the township Planning Commission in which the panel will consider revoking a special land use conditional approval permit issued in 2003.
As for the business, Kevin Lusk, who identified himself as the boyfriend of business owner Julian Szucs, said he, too, is looking for answers regarding what the township considers blight. Even if it exists, he indicated he needs clarification.
"They don't tell me what I need to do to clean up the blight," he said.
As he sees it, he's performing a service and, because it benefits local contractors, the township should be pleased.
"This place helps the contractors more than it does me. I don't make that much money here," he said. "I can go out on the road and crush."
Lusk said the facility not only crushes concrete on a contract basis with other companies but accepts loads of concrete and asphalt from, among others, the city of Niles. As for violations, he said it has received just two such notices -- one for excessive dust and the other the recent blight allegation -- in the nearly 10 years its been in operation.
The dust violation occurred when John Szucs owned the business, he said. John Szucs died after receiving the special-use permit and his widow subsequently took over.
Lusk agreed the premises at one time were "a mess'' but argued the business is in compliance with terms of the permit. He said he even installed a north berm between the business and highway a year ago after he was asked to do so by township Supervisor Jim Kidwell.
That berm wasn't required under the permit although another one to the south was ordered "to protect residential areas." Also, Lusk said, he operates the facility within the designated hours, has planted evergreens as required and has situated the crusher even further from the highway than specified in the permit.
"I think I've covered all the bases," he said.
But Kidwell said it's not the permit's conditions that are an issue as much as the blight. The property features several buildings, he said, that appear to need work and concern township officials.
"All we are trying to do is get him in compliance with the blight ordinance," he said.
"If he says he needs time to get it cleaned up, I think they can work it out."
Records at the township hall state a notice of violation pertaining to "blight and the (township's) property maintenance ordinance" was issued March 6. The Planning Commission meeting was scheduled after a follow-up inspection on April 17 revealed that the violations allegedly had not been addressed.
Staff writer Lou Mumford: