By Nancy Allen
The Lake Improvement Association (LIA) has requested the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hold a public hearing for comments on a plan to fill in two acres of wetlands along Grand Lake.
Members of the LIA's Lake Restoration Committee learned of the public hearing request during a meeting Monday at the Celina Moose Lodge.
The wetlands are located on the east side of County Line Road at the intersection of Koehn Road in Auglaize County. Richard Swarts, representing Southshore Acres business in Schaumburg, Ill., has requested a permit to fill in wetlands in order to build Water Color Estates, a 13-lot, single-family housing subdivision in St. Marys Township.
LIA member Tom Rampe said after studying the permit, it appears the applicant plans to build new wetlands inland from the lake to mitigate two acres that would be destroyed by the development. Rampe said the LIA's involvement, as far as taking a stance on lakeshore development projects, takes the group into new territory.
Member Jeff Vossler agreed. "I think we're going to be getting into some new territory where we are going to have to state our position," Vossler said. "Development around the lake didn't used to be an area we've been into."
Silt from lakeside developments can get into the lake and impair water quality. Wetlands destruction also may worsen water quality, Rampe said.
Mark Bamberger, a private consultant recently hired by the LIA, suggested the group draft a statement saying it is not anti-growth, but wants "wise growth" that is consistent with improving water quality in the lake.
On another topic, Bamberger said the LIA may have better luck applying for private grants versus government grants to help clean up the lake. Bamberger holds a doctorate, is an adjunct professor of geology and environmental science at Miami University in Oxford. He also has extensive knowledge in hydrology and has done grant writing for the Miami River Conservancy District.
"Previous efforts were for getting federal earmarks in the budget, but we are finding there are lots of private entities out there," Rampe said. "With Dr. Bamberger's help, we're going to try to start figuring out submitting these grants."
Local farmer Joe Langenkamp, also an LIA member, asked the group to keep studying a proposed wetland construction project on Coldwater Creek. Langenkamp fears floodwater from the wetland would back up onto farmland he owns in the area.
The city of Celina plans to purchase land along the creek to build a wetland to mitigate part of the lake along West Bank Road that will be filled in to build the Rotary Walkway.