costal zone saves land, spurs growth
Gene Schabath / The Detroit News
-- The Lake St. Clair shoreline stretches about 26 miles
along the eastern edge of Macomb County and is considered
some of its more valuable property -- economically and environmentally.
Macomb County officials and leaders of
five communities along the lakefront plan to keep it that
way through a unique coastal zone management program.
Under the program, Chesterfield, Harrison
and Lake townships, and New Baltimore and St. Clair Shores,
would work with the county's Planning and Economic Development
Department on plans to promote economic development and
redevelopment of lakefront property, while protecting wetlands
and other environmental areas within the zone.
The zone would extend 1,000 feet inland
from the shoreline, starting at Lake Township and stretching
north to New Baltimore.
Steve Cassin, executive director of the
Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development,
said one issue the communities might want to tackle is a
way to protect waterfront property still available for public
"There definitely is a concern that these
areas are being gobbled up by private developers, and access
to the lake by the public is lessened," Cassin said.
Cassin said the coastal zone plan could
encourage zoning laws to prevent too-heavy development along
the lakefront in some communities.
The coastal zone management plan took
a big stride Tuesday when the county board of commissioners
planning and economic development committee voted 12-0 to
apply for a $36,000 Clean Michigan Initiative grant to get
the program going. The first meeting between the county
and the five communities will be next week.
The communities are expected to decide
at the meeting whether they will join in the plan.
The county planning and economic development
committee wanted to make sure there was enough interest
from the five communities before taking the grant proposal
to the full board later this month.
St. Clair Shores City Manager Mark Wollenweber
called the attempt noble and said his city will support
"It's another example of working with
your neighbor," he said.
One of the first tasks of the zone management
committee would be to take an inventory of all land within
the 26-mile zone shoreline.
"Working with the communities, and with
people in the field, we want to see what land use there
is within this 1,000 feet coastline zone," Cassin said.
"Before we can establish a plan, we need to establish a
But Harrison Township Clerk Charles Pierce
says he doesn't see the value in such a land use study in
"We have a master plan that shows what
the plans are for the township, what the areas are zoned
for from marina to residential," Pierce said.
"If they want to study the waterfront,
study the wetland issues."
Pierce said various organizations are
conducting wetland studies to comply with new federal regulations
about wetland preservation.
Wetlands will be one issue under the plan,
but the focus of the wetland issue will be determined by
the five communities, Cassin said.
Another issue the coastal zone plan will
address that could help Harrison Township is failed septic
systems, Pierce said.
Harrison Township has received $1 million
in Clean Michigan Initiative funding to help eliminate faulty
septic systems that have been polluting the Clinton River
and Lake St. Clair. Pierce said it will take another $10
million to solve the problem. Harrison has applied for another
$5 million Clean Michigan Initiative grant to take homes
off septic systems and connect them to sanitary sewer lines.
"And we're still going to have to spend
another $5 million of our own money," he said.
Cassin said under the coastal zone concept,
communities could work together to apply for such grants.
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