Yesterday, the DEQ denied a permit that including construction of a 1,200 foot access road across the White River Township Barrier Dune Sanctuary. The reason for denial has not been made public.
The applicant can file for a variance. Whatever the final decision by the DEQ, it is likely to be challenged in the courts and become a landmark in interpreting the recent amendments to the critical dune law.
Preserve the Dunes commented on the permit application, opposing it primarily on the basis that the amendment’s exemptions for driveways did not apply because the proposed road did not conform to the law’s definition of a “driveway.”
Other reasons cited were a lack of evidence of an easement across the sanctuary, grading of the road was not specified, and the road could not be built so that it conformed with slope requirements. All this aside from the damage that would be caused to the sanctuary and a protected critical dune area.
The public hearing was attended by over 200. Only the owner/developer’s consultant spoke in favor of approval. Local legislators, officials and citizens, as well as spokespersons for environmental organizations, opposed the permit.
The DEQ’s action is encouraging. They showed courage in enforcing the law and carefully interpreting its exemptions. Watch for further posts as more information becomes available.
Prior posts describe the issues further and contain links to more info.