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E-M:/ deq seeks comment on breaking conservation easement to permit wetland destruction



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Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>
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The DEQ yesterday issued a press release announcing a public comment period
on a request from a developer to alter a conservation easement DEQ holds in
trust for the people of Michigan in order to expedite development of the
last significant undeveloped stretch of shoreline on the Detroit River.  If
DEQ does so, it could set a precedent undermining conservation easements
generally.  The easement itself was originally a permit condition for Waste
Management, Inc., in exchange for permission for that company to destroy
significant wetland acreage at the Woodland Meadows Landfill in western
Wayne County.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 1998

DEQ Contact: Ken Silfven (517) 241-7397

The Department of Environmental Quality is encouraging public comment on a
request to modify a conservation easement and on a wetlands permit
application for a project along the lower Detroit River, Director Russell
Harding announced today.

Made in Detroit Inc. is seeking the easement modification and wetlands
permit to construct residential housing and a golf course on a tract of
land between Jefferson Avenue and the Detroit River, and on Humbug Island.
The proposed project is in the communities of Gibraltar and Trenton, in the
vicinity of the area commonly known as Humbug Marsh.

This is a unique situation in that the state holds the conservation
easement in trust for the people of Michigan.

"It is critical that we hear from all interested parties on this proposal
before a final decision is made," Harding said. "The final decision on both
the conservation easement and the wetlands permit will be made concurrently
within 90 days after the public hearing. The final decision will be made
after all comments and technical issues have been carefully considered."

A public hearing on this proposal will be conducted on Sept. 15 by the DEQ,
with the time and location to be announced. It also has opened a public
comment period that runs through Sept. 30.

"The DEQ values public involvement in environmental decision-making,"
Harding said. "We want to hear from all stakeholders regarding this
proposal. Their views will assist the DEQ in reaching a well-informed,
technically sound conclusion."

The conservation easement covers the coastal marsh and a strip of upland
buffer around the marsh. It was obtained as mitigation for wetlands impact
allowed by a permit issued to Waste Management Inc. in 1992. The
modification was requested to increase the number of buildable waterfront
lots and to allow construction of a bridge to the island.

Anyone wishing to submit comments may write to Rich Powers, acting chief,
Land and Water Management Division, Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality, P.O. Box 30458, Lansing, MI 48909.






Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
davemec@voyager.net
www.mienv.org

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