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E-M:/ deq press release on humbug marsh permit decision

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


JUNE 4, 1999


“Better Service for a Better Environment”

INTERNET: www.deq.state.mi.us

Contact: Ken Silfven
(517) 241-7397

An application to proceed with developing Humbug Island and the nearby
mainland has been denied by the Department of
Environmental Quality, though the DEQ is offering the company a modified
permit containing rigid restrictions that ensure
the protection of the area’s wetland and aquatic resources.

Made In Detroit Inc. must agree to the conditions within 30 days. All
information requested must be submitted to and
approved by the state. The existing conservation easement protecting the
area remains off-limits from encroachment. In
addition, the developer still must receive approval from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers before any significant work can
begin on its proposed project.

Made In Detroit’s application for a state wetlands permit was turned
down because it lacks some of the necessary detailed
information, and presents unacceptable impacts to wetland and aquatic
resources, according to Richard Powers, chief of the
DEQ’s Land and Water Management Division, who made the decision. As
authorized by statute, however, the department is
offering the applicant a modified permit that sets rigorous standards
and requires additional protective actions by Made In

“The DEQ is committed to enforcing state regulations with fairness and
consistency,” Powers said. “Following our extensive
technical review and public comment process, we are confident that if
Made In Detroit complies with our conditions it will
satisfy all statutory requirements. While the application lacks certain
specific information, the agency is comfortable offering
a modified permit because the potential resource impacts resulting from
this proposed project are well known.”

“The department has crafted a comprehensive modified permit that is
extremely protective of local resources without
impeding the landowner’s right to use his property. This is entirely in
concert with similar permits issued statewide.”

Made In Detroit proposes to build residential housing units and a
nine-hole golf course on a tract of land between Jefferson
Avenue and the Detroit River, and on Humbug Island. The land is owned by
the developer. The project is in the communities
of Gibraltar and Trenton, in the vicinity of the area commonly known as
Humbug Marsh.

About 5 acres of wetlands would be impacted by the developer’s plan to
construct roadways, home sites, 15 boardwalks and
a bridge.

Permit conditions will require Made In Detroit to:

*Develop a detailed mitigation plan that creates or restores a minimum
of 12.5 acres of wetlands to compensate for the 5
acres that will be impacted. At least two of the new or restored acres
must be coastal wetlands directly connected to the
waters of the Detroit River. The work must be conducted or supervised by
a recognized wetlands authority.

*Provide annual monitoring of the wetlands mitigation program to ensure
its success.

*Construct a fence at least 6 feet high to clearly mark areas on the
island and mainland that are protected by the state
conservation easement.

*Present the DEQ with detailed soil erosion control measures for

*Enact a conservation easement that restricts dredging, and the mooring
and docking of boats, from lots 312 to 325 on the
eastern side of the island. This protects an area of shallow water
important for fish spawning and feeding. Lot purchasers
must be notified of the easement prior to sale and it must be recorded
on each property deed.

*Implement a pollution prevention and pesticide control plan for the
golf course.

*Develop and implement a plan for contaminated sediments in the vicinity
of the proposed bridge and provide a construction
plan for the bridge that prevents disturbance of the sediments.

*Designate an on-site contact to provide information to state regulators

*Provide plans for fill on any lots below the 100-year flood elevation
and apply for a flood plain permit if the lots are to be

The modified permit also prohibits dredging in the bottomlands or
wetlands of the Detroit River.

In December 1998 the DEQ denied the company’s original application, as
well as its request to modify a conservation
easement preserving areas of the mainland and island. The department was
able to exercise its discretionary authority in
denying proposed changes to the conservation easement. Made In Detroit
subsequently amended its plan to exclude all
construction activities from the easement, leaving the wetlands
application as the only issue before the department for

“We have carefully considered comments offered by all interested
parties,” Powers said. “The permit conditions address the
major substantive issues raised in the public hearing and comments. Our
job is to make certain that any determination is
consistent with what is allowed under the statute. We take that
obligation seriously and the people of this state expect
nothing less.”

Revised June 4, 1999 by Deb Miller

Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
517-487-9541 (fax)

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