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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Monterey Dam Removal Lacks Economic Impact Report

Despite the city council's earlier vote in favor of removing the Monterey Dam, dozens of Janesville residents made their final arguments yesterday hoping to convince the state's Department of Natural Resources to deny the city request for the removal permit.

As the story goes, once the DNR issues the permit, the dam is as good as gone.

An attorney hired by the group to save the dam noted that the city's request to remove the dam lacks an important report on economic impacts.

JG Excerpt:
Attorney Buck Sweeney said he represents property owners who would be affected if the dam were taken out. If department officials don't do their "homework," he said, they and others could find themselves in litigation for several years. [...] Sweeney compared the situation to the years of litigation that ensued after the department and Lake Koshkonong residents disagreed on how much water the Indianford Dam should retain to control the lake's depth.

An economic impact study must be done before the department can approve the dam's removal, he said. He noted that such a study was done for Lake Koshkonong.

A lot of folks won't like to read this, but recent court rulings tended to favor economic impacts over environmental concerns. That is to say, if a local government decision or activities cause property values to decline, the courts ruled in favor of preventing those actions.

Regarding Lake Koshkonong, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled that the DNR must consider economic impacts on lakefront property owners when making a decision about the lake's water level. Some have even credited the economic impact report for helping the parties reach an acceptable compromise after years of litigation.

Monterey Dam removal opponents were also skeptical about why contaminated sediment near the GM plant, after nine years since its closing, still remains in the river.

The department will accept written comments through Thursday, Sept. 21, and make its decision sometime after that. The city plans to remove the dam next summer.

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