Wooded area cleared for Habitat homes

MARQUETTE – Habitat for Humanity of Marquette County is planning a row of houses along Van Evera Avenue between Wright and Union streets.

Mike Shimon, executive director of Marquette County Habitat for Humanity, said the organization plans to build four houses over the next two years.

Shimon said a fifth house will be built when it identifies a family wanting to live in Marquette. The building schedule is dependent on volunteers and weather, he said.

He said Habitat bought the land on Van Evera, located close to other Habitat housing on Union, from a private owner.

A forested area with wetlands is being razed to make room for the houses. However, Shimon said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has cleared the organization to continue the project.

John Gustafson, environmental quality analyst with the DEQ’s Upper Peninsula District Office, said DEQ staff delineated the site in June to determine its regulatory status.

“There are wetlands on that property, but they’re not regulated under state law,” Gustafson said.

He pointed out the wetlands do not fall within 500 feet of an inland lake or stream, nor are they within 1,000 feet of a Great Lake. They also are not contiguous with other regulated wetlands.

Gustafson acknowledged there was vernal habitat on the site, which provides a springtime aquatic habitat for some wildlife species. However, there also was a lot of invasive buckthorn.

Shimon said there is always a need for Habitat land in Marquette.

“In the last few years, we haven’t had any luck in locating land,” he said.

Habitat for Humanity uses volunteers and donations, and homeowners provide their own labor for the structures. The houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with low-interest loans.

Shimon pointed out there have been no Habitat foreclosures in Marquette County.

“Every penny we spend for a Habitat house gets paid back by the owner,” Shimon said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.