DEQ Denies Peterson's Request To Expand Local Dredge Spoils Facility
Tower Marine owner R.J. Peterson says he continues to do what is necessary and plans to pursue his request to expand the dredge spoils facility on his property following the recent Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denial of his application.
“It just demonstrates that no matter what you do, the system (the existing procedures and measures to maintain the harbor) is not going to work,” said Peterson.
The existing facility, just west of Blue Star Highway, is on a predetermined upland area and is meant to temporarily contain and de-water the silt that is dredged from the Kalamazoo Harbor that helps boaters that use Peterson’s marina and also others who use watercrafts on the Kalamazoo River.
The Tower Marine expansion request involves the filling of 2.16 acres of wetlands with silt from the Kalamazoo Lake. The project would extend onto land owned by St. Peter’s Church to the south and allow for an additional 85,000 cubic yards of capacity.
That capacity increase requires approval by the DEQ as well as the local governing body, the City of Douglas.
And although the city backs up the 400-slip marina’s wetland application—and has even written the DEQ in support of it— it has also filed a lawsuit against Peterson for failing to demonstrate how the property would be graded with proper attention to drainage and how it would be landscaped.
The DEQ gave several reasons for its denial. As it is currently proposed, DEQ officials said the project was ambiguous in terms of its objectives, asserting that Peterson had expressed it was about marina expansion, not about dredge spoils expansion.
The regulatory agency expressed concerned about the lack of adequate protection to the aquatic resources and said there was failure to show the project was in the best interest of the public, among other issues it brought up.
“The DEQ has determined the project is not in the public interest due to the availability of feasible and prudent alternatives, the size of the proposed wetland impact and the impacts on the ecological and wildlife values provided by the subject wetlands,” reads a March 6 memo from DEQ Environmental Quality Analyst Mark Schieber to Peterson.
Among the changes the regulatory agency would like to see Tower Marine implement if its going to review another application, includes a reconfiguration to maximize the use of uplands while minimizing the impact of wetlands.
Peterson says the facility serves a big need for the community because it will allow the community to dredge a silt-filled harbor and clear the waterway for all watercraft.
The project would also, Peterson notes, cover an undesirable site with a graded site that will be useful for future marina facilities.
“We did good to accommodate the dirt removal process (at Tower Marine),” said Peterson, adding the effort to complete the project will move forth.