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E-M:/ Dunes, development, DEQ and ??



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Enviro-Mich message from Sheinzman <sheinzman@prodigy.net>
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Greetings everyone;

A fellow called me yesterday about a dilema he faces trying to build a
garage and a ramp so that  his mother who uses a wheelchair can stay
with him instead of living in an institution.  He called me because of
my role as a disability rights advocate.  In hearing his situation, it
became clear his problem can not be solved with barrier-free
accessibility laws, but with the DEQ and rules dealing with development
of environmentally sensitive areas.  So I turn to readers of enviro-mich
for any guidance.

Here's the situation.  This man owns property in Grand Haven that is
located on a dune.  He wants to build a two story garage near the road
leading to his property.  He wants to build a ramp from the second story
of the garage to his house, a distance of about 200'.  He would install
an elevator in the garage so his mother could get to the ramp.  The
problem is that he needs to dig an area of approximately 12' x 14' for
the foundation of the garage.  Because the dune is protected, he needs
permission from Russell Harding of the DEQ to proceed.  The DEQ keeps
sending this man to get engineering plans.  They've told him he could
put his garage in the road (if you can believe this!)  Of course that
won't work because his neighbors would have a problem with a garage in
the road.  The man has been told that if he uses this one particular
engineering firm then he would get the permit he needs from the DEQ.
This engineering firm was quite snotty to this man and arrogantly
pointed out that if he doesn't do business with them he can forget
getting DEQ's permission.  Meanwhile, a neighbor sold a chunk of dune
property a couple of years ago to a developer who was able to put in
several houses in a matter of five months.  This guy's been trying to
get his garage built for five years!

So the question becomes how can this man get authorization for about 200
sq. feet for a garage for a very necessary need on his property?  The
other question is how is it that developers can have little difficulty
getting permits to develop a much larger area on the same dune?  Does
anyone know an attorney who can sort this out?

Any direction here would be greatly appreciated.

-Scott


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