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Michigan Court of Appeals Reverses Judge’s Ruling, Allows Traverse City FishPass to Move Forward

LANSING – Today, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a judge’s order that prevented the City of Traverse City from making improvements to the Union Street Dam, known as the FishPass project. 

The Court of Appeals ruled that the FishPass project did not require a city vote and reversed the lower court’s order, directing the Circuit Court to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit. 

In 2021, Judge Thomas Power of the 13th Circuit Court in Grand Traverse County ruled against the City of Traverse City. 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 to update local infrastructure.  

The Court of Appeals stated that in addition to upgrading the Union Street Dam, the shoreline should be increased by approximately 500 feet to increase accessibility, and that the project will result in a gain of park space for public use. Amenities and facilities are also to be added. 

“I have been in support of the City since day one. Updates to the infrastructure of the Union Street Dam in Traverse City are critical in protecting the downtown from flooding and ensuring invasive species do not travel the Boardman River and other Michigan waterways,” said Nessel. “I am pleased with the Court of Appeal’s decision in upholding the ability of the City to make decisions in the best interest of the community.” 

The goal of the project is to help mitigate flooding and better control fish passage. 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 the dam 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.  

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