The Scoop

Ethical quandary for Detroit’s Board of Ethics chair? 

The lawyer for a proposed concrete-crushing facility in Detroit’s Core City neighborhood pursuing a building permit from the city, is the chairperson of the city’s Board of Ethics.

The city denied the permit in December for a number of reasons, including that the facility poses a “public health, noise and safety hazard” for nearby residents. The facility would crush chunks of concrete, pavement and rocks into smaller pieces for use elsewhere. Advocates and residents also strongly opposed the project, citing increased air pollution, noise and truck traffic.

The development company, Can-Am International Trade Crossing LLC, is represented by lawyer Kristin Lusn, who is also chairperson of Detroit’s Board of Ethics. Lusn filed the appeal with the city after the permit was denied.

Lusn did not return Outlier Media’s request for comment in time for publication.

Detroit Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallett told Outlier in an email that “the Board of Ethics has no role at all in the approval, denial or appeals process” for the proposed property “so there is no conflict.”

The definition of what constitutes a conflict of interest is, however, determined by the Board of Ethics.

The board, whose members are volunteers, is responsible for implementing the ethics ordinance which ensures that “governmental decisions are made in the public’s best interest by prohibiting public servants from participating in matters that affect their personal or financial interests.”

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) granted Can-Am a 60-day adjournment on Feb. 20. The developers are now working with the city to come up with possible alternative solutions. The BZA did not wish to comment on this matter.