State Roundup

East Bay Twp.
Boardman River flooding prompts citizen lawsuit

EAST BAY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Some property owners hit by flooding last year during a dam removal project in Michigan’s northwestern Lower Peninsula have sued, saying property values along the Boardman River have dropped.
The lawsuit filed Friday names the Boardman River Dams Settlement Agreement Implementation Team and others as defendants. Chuck Lombardo, a spokesman for the team, said “the matter has been referred to the attorneys and insurance carriers of the parties involved.”
One of the plaintiffs, David Hoyt, said he and his wife, Pam, continue to struggle with mold problems at their residence, which they contend is now at greater risk of flooding.
“This was our dream house,” David Hoyt told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “We always wanted to live on the river ... but when we get those weather conditions with lots of rain, it’s really, really scary.”
The Oct. 6 flooding happened over several hours during what was supposed to be the slow draining of the Brown Bridge Dam in Grand Traverse County’s East Bay Township. Authorities blamed the failure of a construction device, called a dewatering structure, that was supposed to allow water to slowly drain.
The cause of the breach is under investigation. The dam removal project is part of a broader effort to return the Boardman River to a more natural state. The breach swelled the river below the dam, damaging 66 properties and threatening bridges.
The lawsuit’s plaintiffs also includes property owners Phil and Barbara Reneaud, Shelley Wesley, Edna Wilder, and the Boardman Plains Homeowners Association.
Regardless of the October flood, some area residents disagree about whether the removal of the dam has left riverfront homeowners more susceptible to flooding. John Wyrwas, who has property along the river, said flooding this spring hasn’t been more extreme than in the past.
“What we are having now is just normal,” he said.

PA grant to help assess Detroit brownfield sites

DETROIT (AP) — The Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has received a $600,000 federal grant to assess about 32 potentially contaminated sites in southwest Detroit.
The Environmental Protection Agency grant was announced by County Executive Robert Ficano and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Ficano says the grant can lead to an uptick in the local economy by helping to turn the sites into “potentially usable, profitable assets.”
Parts of Detroit’s southwest side are contaminated from years of heavy commercial and industrial use. The grant does not pay for cleanup or redevelopment.
Bing says once the land is assessed it can be “cleaned up and redeveloped as part of a neighborhood’s revival.”
A 39-acre former automotive glass plating site is on the list.
Wayne County was awarded a similar $400,000 assessment grant in 2007.

Grand Rapids
Police helicopter patrols prompt noise complaints

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — State police helicopter patrols over Grand Rapids as part of an effort to curb violent crime in the city and surrounding communities have prompted complaints from area residents.
David Lubbers said he tried to host a dinner party for seven people on his back porch Saturday night, but a helicopter made it impossible to enjoy the evening. He said it was enough of an annoyance that he signed an online petition seeking to stop the patrols.
“It was getting to be so we could hardly talk. It was absurdly loud,” Lubbers told The Grand Rapids Press. “It was like someone mowing the lawn underneath your window for three hours.”
State police spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said she didn’t know whether Saturday’s patrol prompted complaints to her agency or Grand Rapids-area departments.
Grand Rapids police have said the helicopter patrols have been beneficial, particularly when police are searching for fleeing or armed suspects.
The decision to use helicopter patrols had been in the works for some time, but a spike in violent crime at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 pushed it forward. The cost for patrols is part of the existing state police budget. Helicopters routinely patrol over Detroit, Flint and Saginaw.
Brian Kelly, of Grand Rapids, said the flyovers Saturday proved an annoyance and made residents wonder whether some type of crime was happening in the neighborhood. He has an 8-year-old daughter whose bedtime was disrupted, and he described the patrols as “disturbing the peace.”
“It’s stressful for the kids to hear them,” Kelly said. “They have questions about why the helicopters are flying over.”

East Lansing
Charges sought after swastika carved into locker

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Malicious destruction of property charges are being sought against three Michigan high school students after a Jewish classmate found a swastika carved into her locker, police said.
School administrators, the girl’s family and police agreed the best way to handle the incident was for her three classmates to be charged with the misdemeanor, East Lansing police Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth told the Lansing State Journal.
“The school is also being listed as the victim,” Wriggelsworth said.
The Ingham County prosecutor’s office is expected to make a determination about what charges might be brought.
“We’ll charge what we feel is appropriate, and we are not bound by what other people think,” Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said.
Wriggelsworth said an investigation began after the swastika was reportedly carved in late April. Another student’s locker at East Lansing High School also was damaged.
Superintendent Dave Chapin said “appropriate disciplinary actions” have been taken against the three students, but he didn’t elaborate. He said the district considers it an isolated incident.
“In this case, the families came together,” Chapin said. “And to the best of my knowledge, as I was not present, they worked through a reasonable solution and that’s better left in the hands of the East Lansing Police Department.”
Heidi Budaj, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League in Detroit, said she sent a message to the high school asking how her group can help.
“We asked them what programs would they like to utilize and the same goes for the young lady involved,” Budaj said. “We think that every single child has the right to walk into school and feel that it is a comfortable, safe place to learn.”


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