Thursday, July 31, 2008

Malik's legal appeal for right to develop houses and a marina on Harsens Island moves forward


Harsens Island development appeal heading for final pretrial

By Nicole Tuttle
Voice Reporter

The appeals process for two development companies looking to build a housing project on Harsens Island will take another step forward.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Daniel J. Kelley ruled last week that the final pretrial hearing for Grand Pointe Development LLC and Lucky 7 Development LLC will be Aug. 25.

The date was set after Kelly heard the pretrial for the case July 21 in chambers. The case originally had been scheduled for Circuit Judge Peter Deegan's courtroom, but was moved after a conflict of interest surfaced when attorneys involved learned that Deegan's court reporter, Kathy Schweikart, is a member of the Clay Township Planning Commission.

The case is in court because the developers are appealing the planning commission's decision to reject a request for a special land use. The developers planned to create a 348-unit cluster housing development on the former Boys' Club property on the North Channel. The developers appealed the decision to the circuit court March 19.

Clay Township John McNamee said the judge will want to review documents, such as possibly the minutes of the planning commission meeting and what the commission considered before rendering a decision.

He said that he and Gary Fletcher, attorney for Grande Pointe Development LLC and Lucky 7 Development LLC in the case, will need to determine which documents relating to the planning commission decision can be submitted to the judge for review.

"The court wants us to reach an agreement as to what is the appropriate record for review," McNamee said.

Once this process is complete, the judge will set a schedule for attorneys to submit briefs, Fletcher said.

In addition to the appeal, developers applied to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Land and Water Management Division in 2007 for dredging and a marina operating permit. The project would impact 16.6 total acres of wetland with excavation and fill activities. Existing roadways would also be impacted. The DEQ will make a decision on the permit on Aug. 28.

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NOTE: Grande Pointe Development LLC and Lucky 7 Development LLC are entities controlled by Detroit-casino syndicator and developer Michael J. Malik, Sr. Mike Malik shares an office at the headquarters of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. and has partnered with Mrs. Marian Ilitch on various casino ventures.

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