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Published: Saturday, 4/2/2005

Developer to be arraigned in wetlands' case

MONROE - A Temperance developer will be arraigned later this month on misdemeanor charges stemming from accusations that he illegally drained a Douglas Road wetland last year to build a subdivision, according to state and local environmental protection officials.

Douglas Dibert, 46, owner of Douglas Development and PTL Custom Homes, is to be arraigned April 19 in Monroe County First District Court on a single charge of destruction of a wetland, a violation of Michigan's Wetlands Protection Act.

If convicted, Mr. Dibert faces a maximum punishment of a $2,500 fine and a requirement to completely restore the wetland he is accused of destroying, Michael Brown, an assistant Monroe County prosecutor, said yesterday.

In July, Bedford Township building and zoning officials red-tagged earth-moving equipment on the 33-acre site of Mr. Dibert's development, Douglas Ridge, which was in the initial phase of construction off Douglas Road, just south of Dean Road.

A later investigation by the MDEQ found that at least five wetland areas on the site either were illegally drained, filled in, or stripped of vegetation.

No further work has been done on the site since last summer, although neighbors have complained that the disturbance of the land has caused repeated flooding of their yards and homes, Bedford Township officials said.

Reached yesterday on his cell phone, Mr. Dibert said he had no comment.

Monroe County Drain Commissioner Dan Stefanski said that Mr. Dibert may face additional infractions through his office, either municipal civil infractions or violations of the county's drain code.

A determination was to be made in the coming days, Mr. Stefanski said.

The drain commissioner said that Mr. Dibert applied for a soil erosion permit for the site in February, but the application was rejected "because it was inadequate."

Mr. Stefanski said that his office will continue to work with Mr. Dibert to get the land restored.

"If I can get compliance, [our infractions] will probably end at that spot. I want the situation corrected and the county drain re-established," Mr. Stefanski said.

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