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Michigan Senate OKs changes to dune protection law

Jun 7, 2012
photo: Lars Jensen
June 7, 2012, 8:39 p.m. EDT AP

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Builders would have an easier time gaining approval for houses, driveways and other projects in sensitive seaside areas under proposed legislation that would make the first significant changes in Michigan's sand dune protection law in nearly a quarter-century.

The bill won Senate approval Wednesday on a 26-12 vote and now goes to the House, where a similar measure is pending. It's backed by construction and real estate interests that contend the existing law is tilted too heavily in favor of dune protection at the expense of development. Environmental groups say it would allow overdevelopment in dune areas by weakening regulators' authority to block projects or require changes to make them less damaging.

"They've really taken the heart and soul out of the law," said Brad Garmon, conservation director for the Michigan Environmental Council.

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