Friends of the Cedar River Watershed Inc.
October 23, 1998
For Immediate Release
For More Information:
Russ Blasdell, Friends of the Cedar River Watershed, 616-533-8230
Jim Olson and Chris Bzdok, Attorney for Friends of the Cedar River Watershed, 616-946-0044
New Lawsuit Filed over Cedar River Pollution
BELLAIRE, Oct. 23 — Friends of the Cedar River Watershed today brought a new lawsuit against Shanty Creek Resort for polluting the Cedar River and for violating the terms of a court-sanctioned agreement signed in March. The lawsuit, filed in Antrim County Circuit Court, comes two months after the Cedar River was seriously damaged by over 100 tons of sand and mud laced with fertilizers that swept off bare fairways from Shanty Creek’s new golf course construction. It turned the clear trout stream, according to witnesses, "the color of chocolate milk" and harmed spawning beds and other water resources.
"The intent of this action is to force Shanty Creek to repair the damage it has done, and to prevent further damage in the future," said Jack Norris, a member of the Friends’ Board of Directors.
It is the second time in a year that Friends of the Cedar River has filed suit to protect the 10.5 mile long blue ribbon trout stream, one of the wildest and cleanest in northern Michigan.
Last year, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality jointly approved Shanty Creek’s plan to build the golf course, including constructing two holes across the river, as part of an expansion that includes new ski runs and hundreds of new homes. The resort’s plan also involved increasing by four-fold the amount of water Shanty Creek would divert from the Cedar River for irrigation and snow-making.
In October, 1997, Friends of the Cedar River filed its first lawsuit to block the resort from increasing the amount of water it took, prevent pollution from erosion, and to bar Shanty Creek from using the river as a golf course water hazard. The group won a crucial early round in November, 1997, when Antrim County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power issued an injunction that blocked construction. In March, 1998, a settlement was reached with Shanty Creek that, among other things, required the resort to gain approval from the Friends for a comprehensive stormwater and erosion control program that would prevent damage to the river.
The new lawsuit asserts that Shanty Creek failed to abide by the agreement. The resort constructed a stormwater control system that experts warned would be incapable of handling even a moderate rainfall. Contrary to the court’s order, the resort refused to work with the Friends’ engineers to develop an adequate stormwater management plan. On August 22 and 23, two inches of rain fell in Antrim County. The stormwater basin system failed and a torrent of sand, mud, and big chunks of asphalt from a nearby road raced into the river.
The lawsuit asks the court to hold Shanty Creek in contempt for violating the court-sanctioned settlement. In addition the Friends of the Cedar River seek:
Immediate construction of sediment traps and other emergency measures to prevent ongoing damage to the river.
An order requiring Shanty Creek to redesign and increase the capacity of the stormwater and erosion control system to prevent the resort from continuing to use the Cedar River as a drain.
An injunction halting residential construction until Shanty Creek develops an adequate stormwater management and erosion control plan, and shares it with the Friends for review and approval.
An independent investigation and environmental assessment of the river to be overseen by the court and paid for by Shanty Creek.
An order requiring Shanty Creek to design and complete an environmental restoration program to repair the damage it caused to the Cedar River.
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