In an OpEd article in the Grand Rapids Press, Patty Birkholz, former legislator and current Executive Director of the League of Women Voters, wrote that the dunes are worth too much to develop. Continue reading
Yesterday, the DEQ denied a permit that including construction of a 1,200 foot access road across the White River Township Barrier Dune Sanctuary. The reason for denial has not been made public.
The applicant can file for a variance. Whatever the final decision by the DEQ, it is likely to be challenged in the courts and become a landmark in interpreting the recent amendments to the critical dune law. Continue reading
Another controversy has arisen in Saugatuck. Aubrey McClendon’s Singapore Dunes development has been given the right to proceed** after a ZBA decision that Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance (SDCA) did not have standing to appeal the planning commission decision.
Now the Chicago Presbytery, the current owner of the 130-acre Presbyterian Camps’ property along Lake Michigan (south of Oval Park), has contracted to sell the property to a local developer for $10 million. The camp is being sold to cover debts now due. A sale is mandatory. Continue reading
Over 200 attended the DEQ hearing on the G Bro application to build a house on land adjacent to the White River Township Critical Dunes Sanctuary in Montague last night. In the past, the owners had made three earlier applications. The DEQ rejected all for a variety of reasons. Now that the critical dunes law has been changed to make it possible to build driveways over any degree of slope, a fourth application has been made.
Opposition is widespread. At the hearing, which lasted 4 hours, elected state and local officials, representatives of environmental organizations, attorneys and local citizens spoke in opposition. Only the owners’ consultant/permit expediter spoke in favor.
Aside from the destruction to the dune area, arguments against approval of the application were:
- The easement is not a driveway and therefore must comply with the requirements of other construction in critical dune areas
- The easement is for footpath access, not vehicular access
- The house is placed across the easement to the next lot, thus negating it for that land owner
- No verified information regarding easements has been revealed
- The permit is incomplete
The decision date is May 13 unless the applicant asks for an extension.
In an April 10 letter, Preserve the Dune informed the DEQ of our opposition to the permit. The decision maker for the permit had notified interested parties that the decision was going to be based on Part 353 (the critical dunes act). We tried to respond accordingly. We did not discuss the natural beauty of the place, the fact that it is irreplaceable, etc. We just as simply as we could spelled out the legal problems with issuing a permit.
MEC (Michigan Environmental Council) just posted an article about this project. It presents a brief history of the recent amendments, how they came about and explains very clearly why this is an important permitting decision.
The hearing will be held at at 6:00 PM, Monday, June 15, 2013, at the Montague High School, 4900 Stanton Blvd, Montague, Michigan.
For additional information see the previous post.
Last year, we reported that the legislature had amended the Sand Dune Protection and Management Act (SDPMA, often referred to as “the critical dunes act”). The amendments reduced protections of the dunes in order to ease development within these environmentally unique and beautiful areas. Original drafts of the amendments were prepared by the home builders and realtors.
A significant change was the elimination of most restrictions on constructing and locating driveways in the critical dunes. Now the consequences are becoming apparent. Continue reading
A bill signed this week by Gov. Rick Snyder includes $23 million for 76 land acquisitions and recreational development projects in 43 counties across Michigan. The money comes from interest and earnings on the Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF). See our February 23 posting for an explanation of the NRTF.
Just a month ago the legislators were saying there was no need for additional recreational land. They wanted to use these funds for other purposes such as dredging, and to amend the state constitution to allow it.
Fortunately, they failed to initiate an amendment. Dredging was completed with state funds. Recreational land and facilities were needed after all. Funding was available from the NRTF.
For more information see Mlive coverage.
In the post on February 2 we discussed Senate Bill 78 (SB78). That posting had links to the bill itself and to an article written by Brad Garmon on the Michigan Environmental Council’s blog. Basically it is a bad bill. Its purpose is to prevent the Department of Natural Resources from taking any action to preserve the diversity of life on state owned lands.
Recently West Michigan Environmental Action Council came out in opposition to the bill. Follow this link to WMEAC’s site. Take a moment and send an email or letter, or place a call to your legislator or one of the following.
Local State Representative are listed below. The number in parentheses after the name is the district that they represent. The map to the right shows the 2011 districts. Continue reading