(Image: BIKE LANES – Dedicated space on the road for cyclists.)

Courtesy: Greenways Coalition

(Image: BIKE ROUTES – Shared space on the road for cyclists marked with signs or shared arrow (“sharrow”) pavement markings.)

Courtesy: Greenways Coalition


Brownfields are real properties where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Examples include former gas stations, dry cleaners, auto repair shops, and industrial factories. These uses leave behind pollution that causes contamination of the soil and groundwater. To be redeveloped, brownfield properties require testing and cleanup to make sure that the pollution doesn’t harm the next user. Because Detroit has devoted a lot of its land to industrial facilities, gas stations, dry cleaners, and auto shops that now lie vacant, we have thousands of small and large brownfields.


Visit the Planning and Development Department’s webpage at for the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department’s Community Planning Guidebook.


Detroit has a combined sewer system where stormwater runoff, sanitary sewage, and industrial waste all go into the same pipes. Because so much of the city is paved over or covered in buildings (66%) we also don’t have enough permeable open space where rain can filter naturally into the ground and become clean again through natural processes. (This assumes the soil is not contaminated.) During heavy rain, our sewer system can’t handle all the combined sewage and discharges them untreated into the river.


A legally binding contract negotiated by the developer and a coalition representing a broad spectrum of community groups impacted by the development. The contract is intended to ensure that the developer provides concrete benefits to the host community in return for their support of the project.

Examples of well-regarded CBAs:

-Pittsburgh One Hill Coalition CBA with Pittsburgh Penguins stadium development

-Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) CBA with LAX Airport development


A term the Detroit Environmental Agenda uses in the spirit of “deputize”-i.e., to empower residents and community stakeholders to manage and care for public land.


According to Michigan Public Act (PA) 135 of 2010, a Complete Street provides “appropriate access to all legal users in a manner that promotes safe and efficient movement of people goods whether by car, truck, transit, assistive device, foot, or bicycle.” (

See Detroit’s proposed complete street ordinance:


An approach to environmental protection that seeks for materials and products to be conceived from the very start with intelligent design and the intention that they would eventually be recycled as valuable materials or products beyond their original use. This contrasts with the conventional “cradle-to-grave” approach, which sees materials or products as discarded at the end of original use. (


Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) theories contend that law enforcement officers, architects, city planners, landscape and interior designers, and resident volunteers can create a climate of safety in a community through designing a physical environment that positively influences human behavior. The theory is based on four principles: natural access control, natural surveillance, territoriality, and maintenance. (


These commonly found air pollutants are found all over the United States. They are particle pollution (often referred to as particulate matter), ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and lead. These pollutants can harm your health and the environment, and cause property damage. Of the six pollutants, particle pollution and ground-level ozone are the most widespread health threats. EPA calls these pollutants “criteria” air pollutants because it regulates them by developing human health-based and/or environmentally-based criteria (science-based guidelines) for setting permissible levels. The set of limits based on human health is called primary standards. Secondary standards prevent environmental and property damage. (


The impacts on the environment which results from the incremental impact of an action when added to other past, present, and reasonable foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (federal or non-federal) or person undertakes such other actions. For example, the decision to approve an air permit for a polluting facility layers on top of decades of previous similar decisions and adds to the concentration of polluting facilities in areas like Southwest Detroit. Not only does a new facility add to the concentration, but the mixing of emissions creates new pollutants, the impacts of which we don’t yet fully understand. Even though cumulative impacts are acknowledged as significant for public health, they are not adequately addressed by federal law because they are complicated to measure.


In 2007, the Detroit Department of Environmental Affairs issued a State of the Environment Report. The 24-page report describes the purpose and goals of the department, now merged into the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environment Department (BSEED); outlines a 3-point environmental agenda; and explains priority issues, projects, and next steps. The 2007 agenda was to ensure environmentally sustainable operations of City departments, ensure that residential land and structures were free of heavy metals, and promote brownfield redevelopment. (


The benefits people receive from ecosystems, including nutrients and products; detoxification of air, water, and soil; recreation; and cultural inspiration. Examples include trees that filter air pollution and reduce crime, natural areas that help clean and filter polluted water (blue or green infrastructure), pollination of crops by bees, and the Detroit riverfront or Great Lakes beaches as a tourist attraction. See example at “The Effect of Trees on Crime in Portland, Oregon.” US Forest Service. 2001

(Image: Clean Air -> Vacant Lot -> Dirty Air)

Illustration: Trees filtering particulate matter and carbon emissions from vehicle traffic. (Detroit Future City)


EJView is an interactive online mapping tool provided by the EPA to help communities learn about local environmental conditions based on federal standards for air and water quality, as well as toxic releases. To see 48217 as an example, visit


The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”

For more information, view “Almost Everything You Need to Know about Environmental Justice,” a publication of the United Church of Christ, which helped birth the EJ movement in 1987 when it commissioned the seminal report “Toxic Waste and Race.” (


Environmental justice goes to the core of traditional land use decision.

-Geographic equity: choosing sites for undesirable land uses, such as heavily polluting facilities

-Procedural equity: process for deciding where to site these undesirable uses, including location and timing of public hearings

-Social equity: sociodemographic factors that shape which groups hold the political power in land use decisions


The EPA is a federal agency with the authority to enforce several congressional acts that protect air quality, water quality, hazardous waste management, and more. In addition to regulating pollution facilities and operations, the EPA makes grants to states, local government, and community organizations to help improve the environment. The EPA also leads the federal interagency environmental justice initiative to ensure that federal projects and policies protect the environmental health of low-income and minority populations. For annual grant opportunities, visit

Grants that may be most relevant to community groups are the annual Environmental Justice Small grants, Brownfields Job Training grants, and Urban Waters grants.


Analysis of all the costs and advantages of all alternatives, including social and environmental costs and benefits to anyone impacted by the decision. FCA helps avoid negative side effects on public health or quality of life.

An example from “Toward a Sustainable Community: A Toolkit for Local Government” (University of Wisconsin-Madison):

“Using FCA on a community’s solid waste operations.” In this case, the community would need to go beyond a simple analysis of the capital and operating costs of a facility. FCA would include front-end costs of engineering and site planning; back-end costs such as closing a facility at the end of its useful life, post-closure care, and monitoring; as well as direct and indirect daily operating costs including:


Hazardous wastes are liquids, solids, gases, or sludges that are dangerous or potentially harmful to human or environmental health. They can be by-products of manufacturing processes or discarded commercial products such as cleaning fluids or pesticides. (EPA)

Detroit hosts several hazardous waste facilities, including facilities that transfer, hold, and dispose of the liquids, solids, gases, or sludges that are dangerous or potentially harmful to human or environmental health.

Marathon Petroleum Co. (48217, District 6) is the #13 largest hazardous waste generator in Michigan, out of 467 facilities. EQ Detroit (Midtown, District 5) is #19, and Ajax Metal Processing Inc. (Gratiot and E. Forest, District 5) is #20. Ford Motor Company and Severstal Dearborn at the border of Dearborn and 48217 (District 6) are #21 and #23.

EQ Detroit is the #2 hazardous waste management facility in Michigan, with Dynecol Inc. (parent company is PVS Chemicals; SE of Hamtramck, District 5) at #5, and Petro-Chem Processing of Nortru LLC (South of Jefferson near St. Jean, District 5) at #7.

Petro-Chem Processing of Nortu LLC is the #2 hazardous waste shipping facility in Michigan, with EQ Detroit (Midtown, District 5) at #4, Dynecol Inc. at #7, Marathon Petroleum Co. at #15, Ajax Metals Processing at #21, and Honeywell International at #26.

EQ Detroit is the #2 largest hazardous waste receiver in Michigan, with Dynecol Inc. at #4, Petro-Chem at #5, and Detrex Corp at #9.

Source: National Biennial RCRA Hazardous Waste Report (2011 Data)

EQ Detroit is a hazardous waste facility located at 1923 Frederick St. at St. Aubin and Ferry St. just east of Poletown. It is the state of Michigan’s #2 hazardous waste management facility, #2 waste receiver, #4 hazardous waste shipper, and #19 (out of 467) hazardous waste generator. It employs 45 people and has $5.4 million is estimated annual revenue. There are 5,706 people living within a 3-mile radius of the site, 83% of whom are people of color. It is in compliance with its air permit, but has been in noncompliance with its hazardous waste permit every quarter over the past three years. The last EPA inspection took place April 9, 2013, and the facility is currently in violation of its hazardous waste permit. (

Marathon Petroleum Company is the nation’s #4 petroleum refinery, located on South Fort St. in 48217. It employs approximately 500 people and 150 contract workers; first quarter earnings in 2013 amounted to $725 million. Marathon is considered by the EPA to be a high priority violator (HPV) of its air permit. It has been in noncompliance with its air permit for 12 out of the last 12 quarters. The last EPA air inspection took place in May 2013.

To look up more specific information about these facilities and others that may be in your area, please visit the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) website,


Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) refers to the quality of a building’s environment in relation to the health and well-being of those who occupy space within it. IEQ is determined by many factors, including lighting, air quality, and damp conditions. Indoor environments are highly complex, and building occupants may be exposed to a variety of contaminants (in the forms of gases and particles) from office machines, cleaning products, construction activities, carpets and furnishings, perfumes, cigarette smoke, water-damaged building materials, microbial growth (fungal, mold, and bacterial), insects, and outdoor pollutants. Other factors such as indoor temperatures, relative humidity, and ventilation levels can also affect how individuals respond to the indoor environment.

Understanding the sources of indoor environmental contaminants and controlling them can often help prevent or resolve building-related worker symptoms. (


Designed to show the most environmentally preferable options for waste management, the hierarchy places emphasis on reducing, reusing, and recycling the majority of wastes. Reducing municipal solid waste (MSW) generation is the most effective way to address waste management costs and prevent the use of virgin materials. Reusing materials generated is the second-best method. Capturing the material value of MSW through recycling should be considered next. Source-separated yard waste can be composted aerobically to produce a soil conditioner product or it can be used in landfills, in place of soil, as an alternative daily cover. Source-separated mixed food and yard wastes can be anaerobically digested to generate methane for energy generation and a compost product that can provide soil amendment value. Combustion or gasification with energy recovery, or waste-to-energy (WTE), is the environmentally preferable route for mixed solid wastes that are neither recyclable nor compostable. From an environmental standpoint, landfilling MSW is the least preferred option.

(Image: EPA’s Hierarchy of Waste Management)


Land conservancies are nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting land by acquiring (through donations, agreements with property owners called conservation easements, partnerships with government, or purchase), restoring, and maintaining natural areas. In 2003, the Urban Land Conservancy was established in metro Denver, Colorado, to acquire, develop, and preserve community real estate assets in urban areas for community benefit. (


Exposure to a chemical after it has gone out of use but has not been properly disposed of or detoxified. These chemicals can cause health problems from respiratory irritation to neurological impairment to cancer.


Life cycle costing is a method of economic analysis for all costs related to building, operating, and maintaining a project over a defined period of time. Assumed escalation rates are used to account for increases in utility costs over time. Future costs are expressed in present day dollars by applying a discount rate. All costs and savings can then be directly compared, and fully-informed decisions can be made. (

Example: “Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.


Low Impact Development uses the basic principle that is modeled after nature: manage rainwater where it lands.

Example 1: Green roofs are a conventional roof with a thin layer of vegetation, usually consisting of sedum species, to capture stormwater and reduce energy usage.

(Image: Green roof with sedum, Lawrence Technological University)

Source: Lawrence Tech University

Example 2: Native vegetation uses local plants for landscaping, converting areas away from turfgrass, and establishing buffers along water bodies. Native plants are more tolerant of drought, insects, disease, and can infiltrate stormwater better than turfgrass or ornamental plants.

(Image: Native Plants at Refuge Gateway)

Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Example 3: Rain gardens, bioswales, planter boxes include the use of native plants to manage stormwater and allow it to infiltrate the soil. Rain gardens are typically smaller in size, while bioswales are linear and provide both infiltration and movement of water.

(Image: Typical Grayling Rain Garden) Source: Huron Pines

Source: SE Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)


“Special Agents within EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division coordinate with other law enforcement officials and environmental agencies by serving on Environmental Crime Task Force Teams. These task forces work together to strategize how to better support the enforcement of environmental crime and to deter crime before it happens. Task Force members share information and provide knowledge and support to each other.” (EPA)

Local Group: Multi-Agency Environmental Crimes Task Force

Geographic Area: Southeast Michigan

Telephone Number: 734-692-7650

Frequency of Meetings: Quarterly

Participants: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Michigan Attorney

General’s Office, Macomb County Prosecutors Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Army Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Coast Guard, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Environment Canada, Department of Homeland Security-Immigration and Customs Enforcement


An area where air pollution persistently exceeds levels set by the EPA. Such a designation only takes place after the pollution levels have exceeded the federal standards for several consecutive years.


Also known as “Active Transportation” or “Human-Powered Transportation,” non-motorized transportation includes walking and bicycling, as well as small-wheeled transport (skates, skateboards, push scooters) and wheel chairs.


Air or water pollution that does not have one specific source, and results from the cumulative effect of everyday activities. For example, fertilizer, motor oil, litter, or pesticides can be washed by stormwater into our combined stormwater and sanitary sewers. When the system is overwhelmed, sewage can go straight to the rivers without treatment.


Shared between cyclists and pedestrians, not on a road.

(Image: Dequindre Cut at RiverWalk entrance)

Courtesy: Greenways Coalition


PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyl) belong to a broad family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. PCBs were domestically manufactured from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in 1979. They have a range of toxicity and vary in consistency from thin, lightcolored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids. Due to their nonflammability, chemical stability, high boiling point, and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications, including electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment; as plasticizers in paints, plastics, and rubber products; in pigments, dyes, and carbonless copy paper; and many other industrial applications.

Once in the environment, PCBs do not readily break down and therefore may remain for long periods of time cycling between air, water, and soil.

PCBs can accumulate in the leaves and above-ground parts of plants and food crops. They are also taken up into the bodies of small organisms and fish. As a result, people who ingest fish may be exposed to PCBs that have bioaccumulated in the fish they are ingesting. PCBs have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. ( epawaste/hazard/tsd/pcbs/about.htm)


There are many different types of permits, including: air, awning, building, construction, demolition, electrical, mechanical, sidewalk, and sign permits. A permit is “an authoritative or official certificate of permission; license.” (

Air permit: An air permit is a legal document that lists what your business must do in order to comply with the state and federal air pollution laws. Air permits may contain emission limitations, work practice standards, record-keeping requirements, equipment-monitoring requirements, and reporting obligations. Failure to follow the requirements listed in your air permit could result in violations of state and federal laws. ( AirMgmt/Definitions.html)

Building permit: A building permit gives you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.(

Access the City of Detroit Permit Application Procedure at LicensesPermits/Permits/PermitApplicationProcedure.aspx


Air or water pollution that comes from a single source, such as an oil refinery, a power plant, or a leaking underground storage tank. This type of pollution is regulated by federal laws such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.


Reducing or eliminating pollutants by changing production processes, using non- or less-toxic substances, and reusing materials rather than putting them into the waste stream, as well as protecting natural resources. Pollution prevention reduces hazards to public health and the environment related to the release of pollution or contaminants.


When a policy or action has the potential to harm human or environmental health and there is no scientific consensus on its effects, it is the responsibility of the advocate of the policy or action to prove that it will not be harmful. In other words, “better safe than sorry.”


The RTA was established by the Michigan Legislature and signed by the Governor in 2012 to coordinate, oversee, and improve transit for Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties, including Detroit. The RTA board is tasked with developing a regional master transit plan for the represented area, coordinating existing transit providers, and raising federal and state funding to implement the plan.

RTA Board of Directors

Governor’s Appointee

– Paul Hillegonds, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs at DTE Energy, former president of Detroit Renaissance, Republican co-Speaker of Michigan House of Representatives 1993-94 (Chair, non-voting)

Detroit Appointee

– Lisa Franklin, President/Founder of Warriors on Wheels of Metropolitan Detroit and advocate for the disabled

Macomb County Appointees

– Roy Rose, CEO, Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick civil engineering firm

– Julie Gatti, President of Macomb County Bar Association

Oakland County Appointees

– Matthew Wirgau, former deputy administrator and special assistant to U.S. Secretary of Transportation in Reagan Administration and 1994-2008 Chairman of Suburban Mobility Authority of Regional Transportation (SMART)

– Steven Potter, President and Partner of Potter, DeAgostino, O’Dea & Patterson law firm, which represents Oakland County Road Commission

Washtenaw County Appointees

– Elizabeth Gerber, Jack Walker Jr. Professor of Public Policy at UM Ford School of Public Policy, former director of the school’s Center for Local, State and Urban Policy (Vice Chair)

– Richard Murphy, Michigan Suburbs Alliance and former Ypsilanti city planner

Wayne County Appointees

– Mark Gaffney, Teamsters Local Union #214 and former President of Michigan AFL-CIO (Secretary)

– Dr. Curtis Ivery, Chancellor of Wayne County Community College District (Treasurer)

Legal Representation: Miller Canfield law firm RTA Citizen Advisory Committee is to be established in 2013.


A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) provides states with a mechanism to increase renewable energy generation using a cost-effective, market-based approach that is administratively efficient. An RPS requires electric utilities and other retail electric providers to supply a specified minimum amount of customer load with electricity from eligible renewable energy sources. The goal of an RPS is to stimulate market and technology development so that, ultimately, renewable energy will be economically competitive with conventional forms of electric power. Currently, Michigan’s RPS requires Michigan electric providers to achieve a retail supply portfolio that includes at least 10% renewable energy by 2015, and Waste-to-Energy (incineration with energy recapture) qualifies as renewable energy.


Detroit has acres of land that is contaminated by old industrial activity, and land that is exposed to contamination from current industrial activity. There are standards and laws intended to protect residential areas from industrial and highway pollution, but not for schools—schools can be sited anywhere. Two studies that have researched the health and educational impact of air pollution on schools are finding that school location matters—for both children’s physical health and their brain development. Many factors contribute to poor educational outcomes, and the health impact of environmental pollution cannot be ignored.


Certain groups of people may respond more severely to pollution exposure. For example, a young child whose detoxification processes are not yet fully developed may be more susceptible to pollution exposure. An individual with asthma may also be more susceptible to pollution exposure, which could trigger an asthma attack.


Typically, TOD occurs within 1/4 to 1/2 mile, or within a 5 to 10 minute walk, of a transit station. TOD is characterized by: a mix of uses, moderate to high density development, pedestrian orientation/connectivity, transportation choices, including walking, biking, and the use of transit, and urban design and landscape features that integrate surrounding uses and streets. ( TODcasestudydraft_100311.pdf)


Certain groups of people are more likely to be exposed to pollution, often due to variations in the hazards themselves. Vulnerable populations may live near industrial zones or heavily trafficked roads.

A child with asthma living near a freeway or industrial area would be both vulnerable and susceptible. Because Detroit has high rates of asthma, child poverty, and land/air contamination, many local communities are both vulnerable and susceptible to environmental hazards.


Waste-to-energy (WtE) is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the incineration of waste. WtE is a form of energy recovery.


A designation that is applied to a parcel of land reflecting permitted uses and dimensional requirements. Some common zoning classifications include residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational. (

The Detroit Zoning Ordinance regulates land use throughout the city. Zoning identifies and describes what is and is not allowed in a particular area. For example, home-based businesses, when located in an area zoned “R3” (Low Density Residential), are permitted to post exterior signs and hire nonresident employees. However, in an area zoned “R2” (Two Family Residential), they are prohibited from doing so. Each zoning classification has its own unique requirements, and community plans can utilize these classifications to encourage (or discourage) the types of activity that are desired within a particular neighborhood.

In addition to land use, zoning may also regulate the form and layout of individual buildings. In many cases, the zoning ordinance will define requirements for building height, orientation, open space, parking, and other design elements. Sometimes, the zoning of a particular area may be inconsistent with the long-term vision of community stakeholders. When this happens, communities may wish to propose a change to the zoning ordinance, using the process outlined in the City of Detroit Community Planning Guidebook.

Detroit’s zoning maps and the complete Zoning Ordinance are available for download at CityCouncil/CouncilDivisions/CityPlanningCommission/ ZoningandLandUse/ZoningMapIndex.aspx


City of Detroit Community Planning Guidebook (page 44) Detroit, Michigan Zoning Map index (

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