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E-M:/ state goes to court on humbug project

Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>

The piece below, from today's Detroit Free Press, doesn't make it clear
that the aggressive interest and action by the Attorney General's office is
what prompted the legal action, not a born-again DEQ environmental ethic.

State moves to stop Humbug developer 

December 17, 1998

Free Press Staff Writer

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has requested a temporary
restraining order against a development company that has
been clearing brush and trees from the Humbug Marsh area Downriver.

The state agency said workers hired by Made In Detroit Inc. have encroached
on state-protected land while clearing the site, which is located along the
Detroit River near Trenton and Gibraltar. The
DEQ wants the work to stop so its inspectors can assess the damage.

"Made In Detroit has encroached on the easement and obviously we're not
happy," DEQ spokesman Ken Silfven said Wednesday.

The encroachment apparently occurred on the southern part of the property.
Rich Powers, chief of the DEQ Land and Water Management
Division, said it is the developer's responsibility to
clearly mark the easement boundaries.

In a statement Wednesday, Made In Detroit Chairman William Merriweather
said the company will place flags every 50 feet along the easement.
Merriweather said the damage to the protected
land was minimal. Developers are allowed to work on its 409 acres as long
as they avoid the easements and wetlands, which are protected by
the state.

Merriweather said a portion of top brush was accidentally cut, but that the
root system was not damaged. It is expected to grow back in the spring, he

Opponents of the development have been saddened by the clearing of brush
and trees from the property. They still are hopeful that the
development will not go forward and the land can
be purchased for use as a sanctuary. However,
they said the destruction has ruined some nesting habitats.

Merriweather said the work is needed for an archaeological survey required
by the state.

Earlier this month, the DEQ rejected modifications
to conservation easements on Humbug Island and
the mainland area known as Humbug Marsh.
Made In Detroit had asked the state to modify
easements so it could build about 350 homes on
property in Gibraltar and Trenton. The
development would have affected about five of 54
acres of wetlands.

The developer has submitted new plans to avoid building on the protected land.

Powers said it is too early to say if the company will be assessed any fines.

Dan Shine can be reached at 1-313-223-4554.
Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
http: www.mienv.org

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