East China to host work session on redevelopment plan for area around soon-to-close St. Clair power plant

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East China Township and DTE Energy are collaborating on a study about future uses of a waterfront area around the St. Clair power plant.
East China Township and DTE Energy are collaborating on a study about future uses of a waterfront area around the St. Clair power plant.

East China Township is hosting a public work session later this month to continue discussions surrounding a redevelopment plan for an area along the St. Clair River impacted by a soon-to-close power plant.

It’s slated for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at the township hall, 5111 River Road.

The township has been collaborating with DTE Energy on a planning study of the riverfront for several months to investigate potential land use and invest in its growth. The area itself surrounds the St. Clair coal plant, which is set to be decommissioned this year, and is bound on its north side by Remur Road, snaking south along M-29.

Township Manager Cindy Paparelli said results will be shared from a survey done among past meeting attendees over priorities for the area’s future.

Consultants are also expected to present on what she called the “very broad potential opportunities” for redevelopment.

“Obviously, we’re talking many years down the road,” Paparelli said. “But the idea is to put this in some sort of a format that can be included in our master plan so that it will be here for the future administration and leadership to reflect back on when that time actually comes.”

It all comes amid plans to bring DTE’s $1 billion Blue Water Energy Center online and decommission coal-fired plants. While the St. Clair plant will meet its end this year, the Belle River plant has a target in 2030.

The township received a $25,000 award in 2020 to prepare the waterfront redevelopment plan through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s coast management grant program. DTE is matching support 50-50 for a $50,000 total effort.

The St. Clair Power Plant, seen from the deck of the USCGC Hollyhock, Thursday, April 25, 2019.
The St. Clair Power Plant, seen from the deck of the USCGC Hollyhock, Thursday, April 25, 2019.

According to the township, the plan will serve as a long-term policy guide with recommendations for future development. A public meeting in August kicked off the project.

This next session is aimed to invite feedback on preliminary recommendations for the area.

Paparelli encouraged people to come and learn more about the redevelopment plan and its area, which is 45% made up of utilities, 17% both recreation and single-family housing, and 21% other uses, including township land and facilities, as well as commercial and multi-family residential property.

“We’re talking about various rezoning potential in that space right now,” Paparelli said. “Some of the space that is residential will remain. There is a large portion, and the only reason we included those is we wanted to recognize that whatever happens in that industrial space will affect those residential properties.

“So, there’s no intention to make any changes to anyone who’s already living there and has residential property. But the part that is industrial, which is owned by DTE, has a great opportunity for those people (who), with any changes to zoning, could have their input heard.”

More information can be found at www.eastchinatownship.org.

Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or jssmith@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: East China to host work session on plan for area around soon-to-close St. Clair power

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