City acquires lakeshore tract from We Energies
Property eyed as public shoreline
By RYAN SPITZA
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE — The city of Marquette will acquire approximately 1,000 feet of lakeshore frontage included in property from We Energies.
The Marquette City Commission voted unanimously to acquire the property at its regular meeting last week, which lies on the east side of Lakeshore Boulevard adjacent to the Presque Isle Power Plant site.
The power plant is currently being demolished. The property transfer comes at no cost to the city and serves as an additional component to the agreement that the city manager waive the requirement that We Energies remove all subsurface materials and infrastructure on the property, due to a significant increase in demolition costs and site restoration work without adding commensurate value to the site, city documents state.
The waiver is necessary to surpass Section 10-65(a) of the Marquette City Code, which states that “All buildings and structures to be demolished shall be completely razed and all materials shall be removed form the site and disposed of in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. All materials, including, without limitation, every installation, part of a building or accessory building or other improvement on the premises, whether above or below grade, shall be completely removed from the site. No part of any basement or infrastructure below grade shall remain.”
Section 10-65(b) allows the city manager to waive all or part of the above section under “unusual and extraordinary” circumstances and upon written request of the landowner. Then-City Manager Mike Angeli granted the waiver to We Energies under this ordinance.
The agreement states that should below-grade materials and infrastructure at the power plant site need to be removed in the future, the city will not be held responsible for such removal. We Energies remains the responsible party if removal of these components were to become necessary. We Energies will also be required to draft a notice and file it with the Marquette County Register of Deeds to indicate to future owners of the property that underground materials/infrastructure remain.
We Energies still operates intake and discharge pipes on the parcel of land the city is acquiring. The company will maintain responsibility and liability for these pipes, while the city will only be held liable for any other issues that arise within the parcel.
“I just want to make sure that folks understand that this doesn’t absolve We Energies of future (responsibility),” Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Hill, said. “If there are things that they are responsible for, they will continue to be responsible for them. Unlike the Cliffs-Dow situation, there’s no contamination that we’re aware of and we’re not taking on a ‘problem area.’ This is the area on the other side of the road where we are getting beachfront that will be a space for us to recreate and enjoy Lake Superior.”
Other commissioners voiced satisfaction in reaching an agreement with We Energies and adding another piece of land to the city’s public waterfront system.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity to continue to add to our public lakeshore, our publicly accessible lakeshore, and we need to take it,” Commissioner Fred Stonehouse said.
“I think it’s very significant because we are adding 1,000 feet to the city lakeshore, and that’s one of the things that has been a commission priority for many years,” Commissioner Sally Davis added.
The coal-fired Presque Isle Power Plant was retired and taken offline in March 2019 and replaced with two natural gas plants located in Baraga and Negaunee Township. Demolition was previously expected to be completed late this year.
Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.