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AG Nessel Files Brief in Support of Traverse City FishPass
September 22, 2022
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel this week filed an amicus brief in support of Traverse City’s efforts to update local infrastructure.
In 2021, Judge Thomas Power of the 13th Circuit Court in Grand Traverse County ruled against the City of Traverse City regarding its efforts to update the Union Street Dam, known as the FishPass project. The City appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeals and the Department of Attorney General filed an amicus brief in support of the City.
“The FishPass project is important to the residents of Traverse City to protect the downtown from flooding, but it is also important to the entire state to ensure that invasive species do not travel the Boardman River and other Michigan waterways,” said Nessel. “Furthermore, cities depend on the straightforward authority contained within their charters to govern as intended. Complicated interpretations risk hindering the ability of municipal governments to ensure the health and vitality of their communities.”
The Union Street Dam is a key piece of infrastructure for Traverse City. In coordination with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the City elected to move forward with an updating of this dam, in order to serve two critical functions: (1) ensure the integrity of the dam to avoid flooding in the downtown; and (2) protect significant waterways including the Boardman River from invasive species. The project was scheduled to begin in January 2021, but the circuit court enjoined the City from proceeding, concluding that this project required a city vote based on the city charter.
The Department of Attorney General supports the City’s arguments that the project does not require a vote under the city charter for the dam restoration.