State Rep. Brad Paquette spearheaded a roundtable discussion with several other lawmakers, coordinating ideas to address the shoreline soil erosion disaster along the Great Lakes.
Paquette, who represents Berrien and Cass counties, said many in his district have reached out with their concerns and want to know what steps they can take to address the problem, most notably, the New Buffalo Shoreline Alliance.
“All of us sitting here represent quite different areas in Michigan, geographically,” Paquette told his colleagues. “So, it’s understandable that our questions about the matter may be varied. But one thing is certain – answers are needed. All our communities along the shoreline have been affected by this crisis. We must unify our voices to take effective action in protecting our shoreline.”
Rep. Paquette said record water levels have damaged homes and businesses, as well as roads, beaches and other public sites along the lakeshore, and that solutions will be discerned as quickly as possible.
One proposal Paquette supports would allow people to immediately begin the process of protecting their property without having to obtain an individual permit, if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declares a state of emergency along the shoreline.
At the end of 2019, Paquette and several of his colleagues sent a letter to the governor, urging her to declare a state of emergency for the entire Lake Michigan shoreline. While awaiting her decision, Paquette has been actively coordinating with the group to find solutions, engage in conversation and brainstorm effective ways to prevent future damage.
The plan Paquette supports would ensure a homeowner’s property taxes would not increase based on those developments, as the work would be considered maintenance and not an improvement. Along with making the permitting process easier, he also supports a plan calling on Canada to stop redirecting water into the Great Lakes.
“Because many other states invest in protecting their miles of beaches, these discussions are the first steps toward positive action.” Paquette said. “We must keep the conversation open and continue seeking out insight from the people we represent.”
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Brad Paquette discusses ways to help residents affected by record high water levels along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.