Drama Over Drains

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The brand new recycling center in Delhi Township is little more than a slab of concrete, and some bins, but ask township manager John Elsinga and he'll tell you getting it built has been anything but simple.

They applied for a Soil Erosion and Sedimentation permit in July '06, but Ingham County drain commissioner Pat Lindemann says the plans did not pass muster--and the township did not meet his engineering requirements time and time again. The process cost Delhi $15,000 and eight months, in the end.

"It's very fair to say we have gotten frustrated," Elsinga says.

The recycling center he calls just one example. The township got enough complaints from developers to consider it an economic development issue.

"It's the development community that really bends our ear on the time and cost with the current process," he says.

When Delhi heard Meridian and Lansing Township had had complaints as well, the three petitioned the state for permission to have staff do the assessments instead.

Lindemann quibbles with the complaint in general, says the average permit takes 15 days in his office.

"What they think they're going to gain, they're going to lose in the end," he says. He believes the townships will find they don't save time and cost money from the general fund.

He also cautions, soil erosion permits exist to protect the river.
"We have a responsibility as a society," he says, "to do the right thing."

The townships' request is still pending with the Department of Environment Quality.

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