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Great Lakes Article:

Officials ponder local wetlands ordinance

Cost estimates being compiled
Bill O'Brien
Traverse City Record-Eagle

      TRAVERSE CITY - A local ordinance that would regulate wetland areas within the city limits not already covered by state environmental laws is being considered by city officials.
      Most of the city's wetland areas are already covered by state and federal environmental laws because of the city's proximity to Lake Michigan, city officials said.
      "There's not too many that I'm aware of that aren't tied to a body of water," city planner Russ Soyring said. "But there are little pockets of them around that might be in more of a gray area."
      The state, through the Department of Environmental Quality, regulates wetlands that are:
      - Connected to any of the Great Lakes or Lake St. Clair, or within 1,000 feet of those bodies of water.
      - Connected to or within 500 feet of an inland lake, pond, river or stream.
      - More than five acres in size - even if not connected to a body of water - in counties with a population of 100,000 or more.
      - Any wetland area deemed by the DEQ as "essential to the preservation of the state's natural resources," a designation which requires notification of affected property owners.
      Local governments are allowed to regulate other wetlands by ordinance, providing they complete an inventory of properties that would be impacted. They must also use the same defining criteria for wetlands that are used by the state.
      In areas where local wetland permits are required, the DEQ must also issue a wetland permit before any construction activities can begin.
      City manager Richard Lewis is compiling cost estimates for completing the required wetland inventory study. From there the city commission will decide whether to move ahead with the effort.
      Commissioners briefly discussed the issue last month, and some had questions about how much it would cost the city to enforce a local ordinance.
      Others voiced strong support.
      "Protecting our wetlands is certainly in our best interest," Commissioner Ann Rogers said.
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