Daily News Staff Writer

MANISTEE — More than two years after rain washed thousands of tons of sediment from the Arcadia Bluffs golf course into Lake Michigan, and more than 19 months after he filed an environmental lawsuit against the developer for the 13 instances of runoff, Manistee County Prosecutor Dennis Swain dropped the suit and agreed that the developer met all the requirements for the project.

Swain’s agreement to drop the charges was signed Dec. 5 and Manistee County Circuit Court Judge James Batzer ordered Thursday that the charges be dropped.

“It’s just an indication that we were correct all along,” said Rich Postma, president of the company that had the golf course built, RVP Development.

Swain did not return phone messages Monday or Tuesday morning.

Even though Manistee County dropped its suit against RVP, litigation involving the company is still expected to continue.

Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm did not drop her lawsuit that seeks $425,000 in civil penalties from RVP, and Postma said his company filed a counter claim against the state. He also said he’s filed a suit against the company that built the golf course blaming it for the erosion problems at the site.

The cases stem from work on the 227-acre Arcadia Bluffs site that includes a stretch of bluffs that stand about 160 feet over Lake Michigan. Vegetation near the bluff’s crest was removed during work to transform the site into a golf course, and thousands of tons of sediment washed from the golf course and into Lake Michigan on 13 occasions between April and November 1998.

That erosion also created a huge V-shaped gully on the course after the soil washed into the lake.

Swain and Granholm later announced in April 1999 that they filed suit against RVP, charging the company with “blatant and willful disregard for the law” that caused the erosion.

However, on Dec. 5 Swain dropped Manistee County’s suit by agreeing that: RVP complied with the Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act as the act applied to development of Arcadia Bluffs and the company complied with the soil erosion and sedimentation control permits for the golf course development that were issued by Manistee County.

The charges did not halt completion of Arcadia Bluffs and it opened for business in September 1999.

“It exceeded every expectation we ever had,” Postma said about business at Arcadia Bluffs. “It was well received by the public.”