Court sides with Osceola Twp. in Nestle case

LANSING -- In an unpublished ruling issued Tuesday, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a circuit court decision that allowed Nestlé Waters North America to build a booster-pump station in Osceola Township.

The Osceola Township Board of Trustees asked the court of appeals to examine 51st Circuit Court Judge Susan Sniegowski's Dec. 20, 2017, decision to permit a Nestlé booster-pump station for the White Pine Springs Well, located in the township.

Nestlé said the booster station would allow the company to build and move more water, but the township argued it is not allowed under its current zoning ordinance.

According to the ruling, written by judges Cynthia Stephens, Deborah Servitto and Amy Ronayne Krause, the circuit court ruled Nestle's plan constituted an "essential public service," but the court of appeals disagreed.

"We agree with the trial court's observation that water is essential to human life, as well to agriculture, industry, recreation, science, nature and essentially everything that humans need. However, the trial court went on to conclude that because selling bottled water for profit supplies a public demand somewhere, it constitutes a 'public service," the ruling stated.

"The trial court erred in effectively concluding that because water is essential, the provision of water in any form, manner or context is necessarily an 'essential public service.'"

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