State Roundup

Fenton Township
State sues developer over destroyed wetlands 

FENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (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.

Agreement aims to lift ag exports to Taiwan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan has struck a deal to boost exports of its corn and soybeans to Taiwan as part of the state’s broader efforts to expand its international trade.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on Monday hosted the Agriculture Trade Goodwill Mission from Taiwan in Lansing. The delegation’s visit was part of an effort to learn more about Michigan soybean and corn production.
“This provides a great opportunity for our Michigan corn and soybean growers and processors to forge new relationships and expand their export opportunities in the Taiwan market, Jamie Clover Adams, the department’s director, said in a statement.
The agreement signed during the visit involves the Michigan Corn Marketing Program and the Taiwan Feed Industry Association, as well as the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee and the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association, officials said.
According to officials, the Taiwan Feed Industry Association expects the purchase of $1.8 billion of corn and related products from the U.S. over the next two years and the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association anticipates the purchase nearly $1.7 billion of U.S. soybeans in 2014 and 2015.
The delegation also visited a farm in Livingston County and toured a Michigan State University’s farm.
“I believe that only good can come of an agricultural partnership between our great state and Taiwan,” said Republican state Sen. Joe Hune of Livingston County’s Hamburg Township.
The agreement comes as Michigan works to boost agriculture exports and encourage job-creation in the food industry. Earlier this month, Clover Adams traveled with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on a trade trip in China and Japan. Part of the effort included promoting Michigan agriculture.?