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Case Study #1 State Opens Gate, Waterways to Livestock Factories

December 1, 1999 | By Kelly Thayer
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

According to field reports DEQ biologists visited the site in March 1997, when 18 inches of water covered the ground and aquatic plants and animals thrived. Staff members in the DEQ's Livonia field office informed the developer in writing that the wetland could not by filled without a permit.

But that summer CPD Properties filled it anyway. In September Mr. McIntosh visited the site, and three weeks later issued CPD an after-the-fact formal exemption from the wetland law. Mr. McIntosh said he based his decision on a recently enacted new provision of the wetland law that says agricultural land that was "effectively drained" as part of an "ongoing farming operation" was exempt from wetland regulations. In response, Mr. Richardson said the eight-acre wetland had never been drained, and the horse farm had ceased years ago to be an ongoing farming operation. In other words, said Mr. Richardson, Mr. McIntosh reached for an excuse to issue the exemption, and as a result violated the law.

The question, said Mr. Richardson, is why? The answer is almost certain to come from internal DEQ files he has requested, and from depositions he will conduct in preparation for trial. "It is extraordinarily unusual for the number two person in DEQ to become personally involved in a permitting matter," said Mr. Richardson. "The circumstances certainly indicate to me that in this case political influence was exercised."


For more information on the state's wetlands law see the map article on pages 17-18. CONTACTS: Mark Richardson,810-469-5350; Ken Silfven, 517-241-7398.

Take Action

• For a summary of PEER's report, "See No Evil," check out the Web site at www.peer.org/ publications/wp_seenoevil.html. You can order a complete copy through the site, or by contacting Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 2001 "S" Street NW, Suite 570, Washington, D.C. 20009, Tel. 202-265-7337.

• For a copy of the Institute's citizen handbook Benzie County Wetlands: A Resource Worth Protecting, which is full of helpful information applicable to pre-serving Michigan's wetlands, contact Hans Voss at the Institute, 616-882-4723 x12.

Michigan Land Use Institute

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