Macomb County real estate developer accused of illegally destroying 18.4 acres of wetlands

Chesterfield 5 drained wetlands to get commercial facility approved, lawsuit alleges

A generic view of some wetlands. (Pexels)

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – A real estate development company is being sued by the state for destroying 18.4 acres of regulated wetlands in Macomb County in order to get a large commercial facility approved, officials said.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the lawsuit on Wednesday (March 22). It was filed by the Department of the Attorney General and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy against Chesterfield 5, LLC and Christopher Cousino.

Chesterfield 5 is a real estate development company that purchased land in Macomb County in 2018 to develop and market as a commercial facility, Nessel said.

The lawsuit accuses the company of illegally draining surface water from the land and planting crops shortly before applying for a wetland permit to build a large commercial facility.

“The effect of the illegal activities was to make it appear as if there was significantly less wetland on the site, which would increase the likelihood of receiving a permit,” a release from the Michigan Attorney General says.

About 18.4 acres of regulated wetlands were destroyed, according to the lawsuit.

“This case involves the destruction of a significant amount of protected, regulated wetland,” Nessel said. “My office will not hesitate to protect Michigan’s natural resources from unlawful destruction.”

While reviewing the permit application, EGLE officials checked historical aerial photos that “clearly showed” a large natural wetland complex had existed on the site before the application was filed, they said.

“Wetlands are critical to a healthy environment,” acting EGLE Director Dan Eichinger said. “They provide food and shelter to wildlife and aquatic organisms, filter pollutants before they reach lakes and rivers, and provide flood control by soaking up stormwater like a sponge.

“The destruction of these regulated wetlands was illegal, unnecessary, and indefensible. We look forward to the Office of Attorney General holding those responsible to account.”

The lawsuit cites the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act and aims to not only hold the company and Cousino accountable, but also restore the wetlands to their previous condition.

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.