Macomb toughens stand on wetlands
County prosecutor set to fight building plan ALEXA
Macomb County, once considered the metro area's "dullest
of stars" in terms of protecting valuable wetlands, is
about to notch up its vigilance.
County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga is expected to announce
legal action today against development on a swath of forested
wetlands in Chesterfield Township.
Residents in that area have battled for months to save
the 110-acre spread, which sits on four parcels of undeveloped
land between the Salt River and Lake St. Clair. A group
of developers has obtained permits for a subdivision on
one parcel and is hoping to build condos on another.
Marlinga, who is running for Congress, is to announce
the details of the legal action at a news conference today
in Chesterfield Township.
"When we received information about the possible destruction
of more than a hundred acres of wetlands, we were compelled
to look into the allegations," Marlinga said. "I'm looking
forward to sharing the details of the lawsuit on Monday."
Gary Gendernalik, an attorney for developers Paul Esposito
and Sergio Gesuale, said he would not comment on the lawsuit
without more details. He said Esposito, Gesuale and their
partners have obtained permits for the subdivision, called
Secluded Woods, and are following government procedure
on the condo plan.
The lawsuit is just one of several steps county leaders
are taking to guard dwindling wetland acreage.
After Marlinga's announcement, he is expected to host
a seminar that will lead local communities through the
process of drafting their own wetland protection ordinances.
Neither Macomb County nor any of its cities or townships
have protective ordinances, though Harrison Township is
taking steps to adopt one. By comparison, 17 Oakland County
communities have ordinances.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will regulate wetland
acreage if it meets guidelines related to size or proximity
to waterways, but both agencies contend that local municipalities
should take some authority.
"The state used to say that Oakland County was the brightest
star in Michigan for wetlands protection, and Macomb is
kind of the dullest of stars," said Peggy Johnson, former
director of the Clinton River Watershed Council, who helped
draft the Oakland Township ordinance.
In addition to Marlinga's efforts, the Macomb County
Water Quality Board is working on a county-wide ordinance.
Antrim County was the first in Michigan to pass such an
ordinance last year, requiring developers to obtain a
county permit when working in wetland areas.
"I'm not against building houses, because people need
to live, but leave the wetlands," said Doug Martz, head
of the Macomb County water board.