New questions raised about Meijer development in Acme

Aug 31, 2015

Credit Steve Stinson

An environmental group is warning the new Meijer east of Traverse City could cause more trouble for Grand Traverse Bay.

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay says the system to catch storm water runoff from the Meijer parking lot is deficient. The organization sent a letter to the township last week saying the system doesn’t meet basic state requirements to protect nearby Acme Creek.

The center’s executive director, Christine Crissman, says the permit for the development calls for an “innovative” system to address this issue.

“There were a lot of things that were sort of outlined that we were hoping they were going to do at that site,” she says. “But at the very least they should be following their own ordinance.”

The township’s consultants approved the storm water system in May. Acme Township’s supervisor says they’ve had more than one consultant review it.

“We think we’re in good shape on that,” says Jay Zollinger.
But an environmental consultant who had done work for Acme Township for more than a decade quit earlier this year, in part, over this issue. Chris Grobbel didn’t believe the developer of the Meijer site had done what was required.

“They didn’t do anything even remotely in line with what had been approved,” Grobbel says.

Problems with storm water runoff were on display in a dramatic way almost a year ago at this same site.

During construction last fall, heavy rains swept clay and silt off of the Meijer construction site, into Acme Creek, and out to East Bay. Photographs of the event taken by township resident Steve Stinson showed brown milky water flowing out to the bay.

Environmental regulators said the problems persisted over three weeks and fines for the violations totaled $40,000.

Christine Crissman at the Watershed Center says storm water runoff is the worst thing that can happen to Grand Traverse Bay.

“Sediment and nutrients are the number one threat to Grand Traverse Bay,” she says.

Nutrients help algae grow and sediments fill spaces where fish and bugs live and breed.

Crissman says they have not been able to document any impacts on Acme Creek from that event. She says the stream has always been in poor condition based on the Watershed Center’s stream monitoring.

Controlling storm water during construction is not related to the system that will capture it in the future. Supervisor Jay Zollinger blames unusually heavy rains for the problems last year.

The new Meijer store is expected to open before the end of the year.