FENTON TWP. (AP) – An upscale housing developer violated Michigan law by destroying Flint-area wetlands and dumping sediment into waterways, according to a lawsuit by the state.
The office of state Attorney General Bill Schuette filed the lawsuit last month in Genesee Circuit Court on behalf of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality against October Capital Group, owners of the Liberty Shores housing development.
Steve Munkres, the head of October Capital Group, told The Flint Journal that he’s aware of the DEQ’s concerns but said the collapse of the housing industry forced his company out of business and made it unable to pay for necessary improvements.
“We did everything we could,” Munkres said. “We just ran out of money.”
Genesee County’s Fenton Township approved the 182-home subdivision in 2005. Munkres said the development went into foreclosure and was sold to another business, but Munkres has continued to work with the new owner to try to finish the development.
According to the lawsuit, the DEQ issued a permit in 2005 that authorized the developer to fill in nearly a half-acre of wetlands on the property to construct a road, install utility lines, construct a boardwalk and create ponds if new wetlands were built.
The DEQ, however, said the new wetlands weren’t built. It wants October Capital Group to fix problems on the property and pay fines that could cost up to $25,000 per day for some of the violations.
According to Munkres, plans called for developers to construct two new wetland areas to offset the areas that were affected. He said that one portion of new wetland is completed but crews ran into difficulties on the second portion when they hit a spring and created a pond instead.
“It’s too wet to be a wetland,” Munkres said.
The DEQ also said that the development led to sediment being discharged into state waterways, including the Shiawassee River, Tupper Lake and Lake Ponemah. Munkres said steps are being taken to rectify some of the problems involving sediment.
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