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E-M:/ mile of lower Clinton River shoreline protected

Enviro-Mich message from Hugh Horton <hortonsailcanoe@wowway.com>


A mile of the lower Clinton River¹s shoreline will be kept natural---no
seawalls---preserving and encouraging native vegetation, as a result of a
seven year struggle by three residents downstream.

Hugh Horton 586 468 6456
Brigantine Estates¹ Stuart Kaufman 248 645 1600
Macomb County Prosecutor Mark Richardson 586 469 5350
Jim Renouf 586 360 5890

The stunning shoreline a half mile east of I-94, bends around Brigantine
Estates¹ 73 acres cleared for 170 lots, near Selfridge ANG base.

Preserving any of the remaining unseawalled shore is vital. It¹s a wildlife
corridor, fish spawning shallows, and turtle nursery. It meets the
recommendations of countless water quality and environmental groups, public
and private. It helps protect from over fertilization sluicing directly into
the river. And it is safer for people, for children and seniors, and their
pets, because it gives a beach and bank, rather than a steel wall.

One of the three riverside owners downstream, Hugh Horton, praised the
current owners of Brigantine Estates for acting to protect the river and
shoreline. ³They¹ve been a pleasure to work with,² said Horton. ³We wish all
developers had their ethics and understanding of the natural features of
their properties.²

Doug Martz, Macomb County Water Quality Board Chairman said, ³I think it¹s
great. It¹s too bad the rest is seawalled. It¹ll definitely help water

The fight over the Brigantine shoreline began in 1999, when the first set of
investors bought the property and asked for approval of a plan with a full
mile of steel seawall. Horton and two other riverside owners, Jeff Minch and
Jim Renouf, were alarmed at the potential impact on the river and the loss
of the last, nearly pristine stretch of natural shore below Mt. Clemens.

The three argued to state and local authorities that the first developers
illegally filled a floodplain and floodway, failed to get proper permits,
gave false information to the township, county and state, and even forged
signatures on surveyors¹ seals. After an investigation, Macomb County Water
Quality prosecutor Mark Richardson charged and convicted a principal of the
first group. Investors reorganized and obtained an ³After-the-Fact Permit²
from the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), for the illegal

Horton, Minch and Renouf challenged the DEQ¹s permit approving a dredged
marina to compensate for the fill. In their contested case hearing before a
DEQ Administrative Law Judge, they asked for a permanent ban on seawalls
along Brigantine¹s riverfront, for protection of wetlands on the property,
for restrictions on fertilizing, and for better handling of stormwater, to
slow the flow of pollutants into the river and lake.

At a mediation conference in October, the current owners of Brigantine
Estates pledged to carry out most of the improvements sought. As a result,
the three Harrison Township residents agreed last week to dismissal of the
DEQ case.  

Detroit Audubon's Fred Charbonneau said, ³there¹s no question about the
value of the habitat. It would be incredibly short sighted to do other than
preserve as much as we can for our grandchildren.²

Now you might still see a Green heron hop on fallen branches of a native
willow, then stare confidently into the water. In the spring, pied-billed
grebes dive for fish, followed by terns and kingfishers. Bufflehead ducks
and hooded mergansers visit in the fall. Deer, fox, and mink wander its
beaches. Native shrubs and grasses hold the soil. Its banks are free of
fertilizers from suburban lawns. The shore is beautifully fascinating for
boat traffic. ?How many painted turtles were sunning on that log?¹ ?Look at
that tall bird!¹ ?Was that a big snapper?¹

After assurances and language including ³no seawalls² and ³to be kept in a
natural state² was secured in the development¹s Master Deed and By-Laws, as
recorded in the County; and after about two thirds of the proposed seawall
was removed from the proposed marina to be cut into the property; and after
the DEQ tacitly accepted responsibility to ensure no seawalls, Horton,
Minch, and Renouf agreed to dismiss their case.

Horton said, ³Now, we must all trust these entities to prohibit seawalls,
and to protect, preserve and restore the natural shoreline, and the river¹s
bank and wildlife corridor, recognizing these actions will help clean and
aid the health of the Clinton River, Lake St. Clair, and the Great Lakes

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