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E-M:/ Proposed Development on Lower Detroit River

Enviro-Mich message from MaryGinbau@aol.com

Proposed Trenton/Gibraltar Development Project, Detroit River

     Made in Detroit, Inc. is proposing a waterfront development project in
the lower Trenton Channel, Detroit River entitled the Trenton/Gibraltar
Development Project, as it includes a stretch of property which lies in both
the cities of Trenton and Gibraltar.  The development project includes a
luxury marina, 20,000-seat outdoor amphitheatre, approximately 350 homes,
health club, golf courses, equestrian stable and riding center, restaurants,
other recreational activities, and parking facilities.  Newspaper articles
concerning the development have appeared in the News-Herald (in part) on July
7, 1996; February 2, 1997; and February 16, 1997.

     The development site is east of West Jefferson between Van Horn and
Gibraltar Roads and west of West Jefferson between Vreeland and Gibraltar
Roads. The development is primarily centered around the junction of Vreeland
and West Jefferson.  The properties are owned by Waste Management, Chrysler
Corporation, and DSC Ltd. (formerly McClouth Steel).  The waterfront area is
commonly known as Chrysler Bay (two-part embayment) and Duck Hunter's Island
(sometimes referred to as Humbug Bar or Humbug Island).  A considerable
amount of the property has been industrial with a chemical plant, landfills,
and other waste storage areas.  The area has been previously fenced/diked in
the vicinity of the Island and there has been  some land filling in the
mainland area.  No property has been purchased by the developer at this time.

    An estimate of the property lines show that the marina, the amphitheatre,
and approximately 50 dwelling units would be located in Trenton.  The
remainder of the development appears to lie in Gibraltar; however, the city
or cities that Duck Hunter s Island falls in is unclear.  Approximately 50
dwellings with half-acre lots would be built on Duck Hunter s Island,
approximately 250 units with quarter-acre lots on the Gibraltar mainland, in
addition to the 50 units with quarter-acre lots in Trenton.  Dwelling unit
costs start at approximately $500,000 and upwards dependent on location.  A
culvert bridge would be built from the mainland to the Island as an
entrance/egress.  Development cost is projected at approximately $500
million. Considerable construction employment and long-term employment at the
site is projected. Benefits to Trenton and Gibraltar are also projected from
tax revenues.

     Two of the main obstacles are transportation concerns and environmental
concerns.  Transportation concerns center around congestion both from new
local traffic and traffic due to the amphitheatre.  These concerms may be
alleviated by widening West Jefferson, Vreeland, and Van Horn Roads, with the
possible intervention of other road planning groups and the widening of West
Road.  There is also great potential of traffic congestion at the railway
crossings on Vreeland, Van Horn, and Allen Roads.  Bridges over the railways
at these sites could potentially relieve some of this congestion.   

   A wide range of environmental concerns arise regarding the development
including loss of wetlands, impacts on fish and wildlife, resuspension of
contaminated sediments, and impairment of recreational usage .  The area
proposed to be developed adjoins the only remaining  classifiable
wetland/aquatic macrophyte area on the Michigan mainland side of the Detroit
River.  The development may encroach on this contiguous wetland and will
directly include smaller wetland areas.  The development area falls within a
larger area of the lower Detroit River that is planned for preservation and
protection by local environmental groups.  

     There has been some activity by environmental groups and others will
probably become involved as they become familiar with the development and
issues; these include: Michigan United Conservation Club, Sierra Club, Grosse
Ile Land and Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Citizens Environment
Alliance of Southwest Ontario, Downriver Citizens for a Safe Environment, and
Detroit River Remedial Action Council. 

     Some of the primary environmental issues are:

Should property adjoining the last remaining wetlands on the Michigan
mainland of the Detroit River be developed?

Would any wetlands mitigation efforts provide ecological habitat and function
or enhancement of  Detroit River aquatic life, waterfowl,  and wildlife,
comparable to the wetlands which are to be developed/lost? 

What is the total area of wetland habitat that will be disturbed?

What portion of the wetland will be filled?

Is development of this area consistent with the goals and objectives of the
Detroit River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for  preserving and protecting fish
and wildlife habitat?

Is this area a fish spawning site?

Is this area a fish nursery site?

Is this area a flyway and feeding area for waterfowl?

Are there rare, threatened, and/or endangered plants, aquatic life, or
wildlife in this area?

Would development disturb any upland areas that are contaminated from
industrial use?

Do dredging plans for the marina conflict with remediation plans for the
Trenton Channel?

Would any dredged material be disposed of in a manner consistent with
avoiding contamination  of additional areas?

Would disposal of dredged materials be placed in an area that would then
create a potential hazard in the future?

Would dredging operations have deleterious effects on downstream areas and
Lake Erie?

What is the nature of Detroit River sediment contamination in this area? What
are the
conservation easement restrictions, are these bound by law, do they meet
wetland buffer zone policies, and do they protect against clear-cutting and

What are the riparian restrictions on navigational dredging for recreational

How will the marina and surrounding development affect the spring walleye

Would the marina increase boating traffic to an undesirable level? 

How will the proposed culvert construction affect flow patterns in the river
and long shore movement patterns of fishes?

How will the development affect duck hunters?

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