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Marina construction plans sink after multiple environmental citations

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(The Center Square) – A popular Muskegon marina is concerned about “aggressive” legal backlash for violating environmental policies.

Adelaide Pointe, new to the Muskegon Lakefront, received a violation and enforcement notice from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy on Monday. The Water Resource Division cited four separate violations of environmental laws and unpermitted construction, but the developer says the response was unexpected.

“We could have had just a decent conversation about it and figured it out − and I will have that − but I think that their response was draconian, inaccurate and claims jurisdiction in areas where they have none,” Adelaide Pointe developer Ryan Leestma said.

Hugh McDiarmid Jr., communications manager for EGLE, says Leestma filled in wetlands without a permit, installed rock riprap on a protected shoreline, and illegally widened the peninsula. Other citations include unauthorized dock widening to install unpermitted fuel stations, and failure to construct a wave break to protect aquatic life.

“After reviewing complaints, we became concerned about other aspects of the project, which resulted in a more comprehensive inspection that resulted in the most recent violations,” McDiarmid said.

Leestma and EGLE previously interacted in March, April and May, including an on-site inspection on May 17. Because he received no immediate feedback, Leestma said, the June letter was unexpected.

The developer says EGLE has not fairly considered some of the points in the letter, and has not provided a plan to remediate the mistakes made. Leestma points out, for example, that his permit is pending, and has found proper workarounds in the meantime. While the pending permit is for a dock, the marina currently has an anchored 40-foot long boat being used as a walking deck and tie-down for smaller boats.

Adelaide Pointe will be the first new marina on Muskegon Lake in 30 years. Estimated to be worth $250 million, the project has taken three years with a few hiccups in the process. In March, contractors accidentally dredged protected wetlands on the wrong side of the peninsula. The crew immediately stopped construction after realizing their mistake, contacted EGLE, and apologized on social media.

“I feel like someone is making an overt attempt to be as critical as possible,” Leestma said. “But if there are things that are off, then absolutely, we can do something about it. Everybody here has the best of intentions.”

Leestma says he is ready to fix the violations, but a plan of action or fines will not be determined until further conversations with EGLE. For now, construction continues.

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