Wixom officials have given a developer permission to assess approximately 15 acres of wetlands situated within the Loon Lake Habitat before submitting an offer to purchase the wetlands’ conservation rights.
Robertson Brothers, a company that helped build the Tribute condominium development in downtown Wixom, submitted a preliminary proposal to buy the conservation rights on the wetlands between Canary Road and Loon Drive, west of Wixom Road, at a cost of $2,500 per acre.
“At the time they built the Tribute development they had to fill the wetlands, but it is a condition that they must build new wetlands somewhere else or place conservation easements over current wetlands,” said Assistant City Manager Tony Nowicki.
There is a two-fold benefit in purchasing conservation easement rights. First, there is a significant cost avoidance by going this route and, secondly, the land would be preserved in perpetuity.
“If it moves forward, the initiative preserves the land and means that the land can never be developed into a subdivision or anything else, ever,” Nowicki said.
If the agreement is approved by the City Council and the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the property title would remain in the hands of Wixom.
Acquiring the conservation rights is predicated on the company’s ability to secure funding, as well as the DEQ approving a permit in accordance with Part 303 of the Wetland Protection Act.
“The DEQ authorizes the wetlands through a permit,” said Any Hartzm, the DEQ’s district supervisor of the Water Resources Division. “If the company destroyed less than one-third (of an) acre of wetlands, we can waive the mitigation, but more than one-third (of an) acre requires mitigation by law, either by constructing wetlands, restoring wetlands or protecting existing wetlands in perpetuity. Conservation easements are ways to protect large tracts of land with special value to them.”
Robertson Brothers has asked for a 90-day due diligence period to secure funding and conduct all on-site inspections.
The agreement ensures that the city reserves the right to use the land for passive and “out-of-doors” recreation. To that end, the company may construct walking trails, a boardwalk, and a lake viewing/fishing platform and parking area near Wixom Road.