Marina cited for environmental violations

HOLLAND, Mich. – A marina owner in Douglas, Mich., was cited twice in January for violating state and federal environmental statutes, the Holland Sentinel reported in a story yesterday.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said that R.J. Peterson of Tower Marine in Douglas did not get permits before he expanded a dock on Kalamazoo Lake or before he constructed a cement barrier to control erosion along the shoreline, the newspaper reported.

“Any type of permanent structure needs a permit,” said Ben A. Zimont, district representative of the Land and Water Management Division for the Department of Environmental Quality.

Because the marina falls in the federally navigable waters of the Kalamazoo River, Peterson also needs a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the newspaper.

“Tower Marine has been aware of (these) requirements for at least 25 years, permit applications from Tower Marine date back to at least 1979,” Zimont stated in the violation notice. “Given that time frame, by now Tower Marine should have no misunderstanding of the types of activities that need prior authorization from the DEQ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

Peterson cited DEQ employee turnover, lost paperwork and the six-month permit process as partially responsible for his receipt of the violation, according to the newspaper. Zimont agreed that there is some shared blame, but said his office won’t issue a marina operating license until the violations are resolved.

These problems are symptomatic of larger issues, Peterson suggested. Among the considerations of marina operators are changes in boat design and size, public access, water levels and changes in insurance requirements, all of which require facility modifications.

He told the newspaper that if responding to each of these demands requires an expensive permit, operating a safe and profitable marina will become very difficult. And public access to Lake Michigan will likely decline.

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