Environmental law may halt township amphitheater
Local attorney John Stewart and concerned citizens were on hand last week as contractors from the PSI Engineering took soil samples from the proposed site of a new amphitheater in Plymouth Township Park.
Jul. 9, 2014 PLYMOUTH VOICE.
Plymouth Michigan News
Full construction scheduled to start in two weeks
In an effort to protect habitat and water quality of the headwaters and tributary branches of the Rouge River, ecologists, under the direction of Wayne County and the Michigan Department of Environment, have been collecting extensive technical information on its sub-watersheds since 1993, funded by Congressional appropriations and managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Included in the project is a section of the Middle 1 Subwatershed and its ecosystem located in McClumpha Park in Plymouth Township.
Last week contractors started work, drilling for soil samples and removing brush and small trees to construct a controversial and hotly contested 400-seat amphitheater planned within the wooded area of the 81-acre park designated as a subwatershed and protected monoculture, where trees and grasses can survive in just 3 inches of soil. Nearby, mature maple and beech trees tower 100 feet close to some of the priciest homes in the township.
When contacted Friends of the Rouge, a Michigan non-profit organization located on the University of Michigan Dearborn campus, expressed surprise and concern that the protected park area had been breached by rigs owned by PSI Engineering and Consulting, the firm Plymouth Township retained to remove core samples.
Friends of the Rouge promotes restoration and stewardship of the 126 mile long Rouge River through river reporting, education and monitoring and hosts educational projects to train teachers. The river’s watershed covers 467 square miles.
“State and Federal governments don’t want public land developed if the residents are against it,” said Sally Petrella, the organization’s Volunteer Monitoring Program Manager, referring to the wave of protests by township residents.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the loss of degradation of wetlands can lead to serious consequences. The EPA has enforcement authority for the federal wetlands protection laws. Fox News recently reported a man in Wyoming is facing a $75,000 per day fine from the EPA over a pond he and his family built on their private property. The agency says the pond violates the Clean Water Act because a dam was constructed on a nearby creek without a permit and that “discharge” from his pond is affecting other waterways.
Jeremy Richardson of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) indicated there was a pre-application meeting with Plymouth Township at the site last month and from the plans they displayed there did not appear to be a need for a special permit for the creek channel itself, but was unsure if a permit would be required to build in the floodplain.
A representative from the Wayne County Water Quality and Land Management Division, the people who provide for watershed management and environmental protection to the counties wetlands and waterways, said they have yet to receive any requests for soil or sedimentation permits on new projects in the township park, stressed that if construction starts on July 23rd as scheduled, there is little time left for required inspection and approvals.
There are already several recreational facilities located within the Middle 1 Subwatershed, where an advisory group is charged with the management of the land.
Included are Maybury State Park, Wayne County Middle Rouge Parkway, Northville Downs Race Track and the Plymouth Township park.