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Bridge gap

The Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC), which owns the Ambassador Bridge, is expanding its adjacent truck plaza. The catch is that the company started construction for the new tollbooths and fueling station without a single work permit or proper zoning, according to a lawsuit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court in February.

The lawsuit states that last summer the bridge company submitted paperwork to the city regarding plans for the area and applied for permits in January. When city officials learned from nearby residents that the project was proceeding sans permits, they ticketed the company and ordered a halt to construction, according to the lawsuit.

But the company applied the brakes only after the city sued and obtained a restraining order.

Attorney Bill Seikaly, who represents the bridge company, says that it “is not unusual in Detroit for people to apply for building permits and construction to start before permits are issued. … The idea was the paperwork would catch up.”

Company President Dan Stamper says that the project, which includes seven new truck tollbooths, 11 car tollbooths and 11 diesel fuel pumps, is urgent. According to Stamper, trucks are backed up for two to three miles in Windsor and more tollbooths will alleviate congestion.

But Margaret Garry, Mexicantown Community Development Corporation real estate development manager, fears that more tollbooths will increase pollution as trucks sit idling.

“It will make pollution, noise and vibrations worse,” she says.

Garry is also concerned that the expansion will disturb the residential area and St. Anne’s Church, which sits only a few hundred yards from the project.

The bridge company was scheduled to appear before the Detroit Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday, after this paper went to press. If the board did not grant the variance, the bridge company could appeal.

We’ll keep you posted.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or cguyette@metrotimes.com

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