On October 17, 2017, the DEQ Water Resources Division will hold a public hearing at the Saugatuck High School Auditorium at 6:30 pm with an informational Q & A session at 6:00 pm. The application and related documents can be reviewed at https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us
This DEQ hearing will be one of most important hearings on enforcement of Michigan’s Natural Resource Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) in critical dune areas. Preserve the Dunes believes that the law is very clear on the issues.
The permit application (2R8-N9W4-J542) addresses NREPA parts 353 Sand Dunes Protection and Management and 301 Inland Lakes and Streams but ignores Part 637 Sand Mining which defines sand dune mining as “removal of sand from sand dune areas for commercial or industrial purposes” but allows removal of less than 3,000 tons. [637.01 (l)]. The developers are proposing construction of a boat basin/marina that will require removal of 241,750 cu yds of sand. That is 80+ times the allowable 3,000 tons. Clearly on the basis of the amount of sand to be removed, this is sand mining and may be subject to Part 637.
Then is the project being undertaken for a commercial purpose? The developer does not even suggest another purpose. They say the sand will not be sold as if that proves that removal does not have a commercial purpose. It does not.
Obviously, the marina is being developed primarily to make a profit on the sale or rental of the facilities. In the cover letter for transmitting the project documents the developer states “The goal of North Shore was, and is, to design, and build a world-class residential development that strikes the proper balance between economic return and preservation.” This is unquestionably a commercial enterprise and consequently sand removal in the planned quantities is by definition sand dune mining. However, it cannot be issued a sand dune mining permit because it is located in a critical dune area. [Sec. 63702(1).]
In conclusion, there are some good ideas for the design and planning of a marina, but the proposed sand removal is unlawful on this site. The DEQ must deny the permit application.