Marina proposal causes a stir among Lake Margrethe property owners
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A proposed permit to have a marina based off the north shore of Lake Margrethe was met with an abundance of opposition last week.
Staff from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEW) Waters Resources Division held a public hearing at the Grayling Township Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 10.
Lake Margrethe property owner Brad Lapworth is seeking a permit to install a seasonal dock. The dock would be 200-foot-long by three-feet wide with six 30-foot-long by three-feet-wide finger piers for the dockage of 12 boats. In addition, Lapworth proposes to construct a parking area.
Matt Kleitch, an environmental quality analyst with the DEQ, said the agency deals with permits requesting marinas, and the construction of docks which involve wetlands, shoreline protection and natural resources.
Under the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, Kleitch said the DEQ shall issue the permit if the project would not obstruct the public trust and riparian rights.
A riparian is a person who owns property on a lake, river or stream or body or water.
Kleitch added the permit could be issued if the construction of the marina is consistent with riparian rights of the applicant, does not unreasonably interfere with navigation, and is designed to operate within the correlative rights of other riparians including adjacent riparians. However, Kleitch said the permit would not be granted if the project would destroy the water and other natural resources of the state.
Over 60 people packed into the township hall, voicing strong opposition and a variety of concerns with the proposed marina.
Lapworth did not attend the hearing, but did take part in a brief interview with the Crawford County Avalanche.
Lapworth said he wants to provide an area for people to keep their boats, especially for people who own homes in the area which are not on the lakefront.
“I think there are people that would like to have boat slips instead of hauling their boats all of the time,” Lapworth said.
Several people expressed concerns over potential car accidents occurring on M-72 West, where motorists are already exceeding the speed limit and high volumes of traffic are traveling to Traverse City.
“It would be a colossal mistake and it would be an opportunity for a very, very serious accident,” Chuck Spencer said.
Others expressed concerns about pollutants flowing from the highway and the parking lot into the lake.
Tom Jarosz said property owners are already footing the bill to keep plant growth under control in the lake, and that would only get worse if the water quality is lowered.
“Generally, what I see at a marina is a lot more stagnant water that’s not being used because you’ve got boats that are sitting there and you always see a lot more plant growth there,” Jarosz said.
Joe Porter said that area of the lake is too shallow, expressing concerns that boat motors would have a negative impact on fish and turtle habitat.
“When you have a dock protruding that is so far out into the lake, it’s going to be a water hazard and a boat hazard for anyone using our lake,” Porter said.
Jeannette Kitchen expressed concerns about children swimming and wading in the lake.
“Everybody in that area has a boat,” she said. “When you start putting that many more boats in that area, I think that is very concerning.”
Kathryn Treston Aurand, an AuSable Canoe Marathon paddler, said the long dock would take away a training area for paddlers.
“We need to be close to shoreline,” she said. “We cannot be out 200 feet, especially with the unpredictable winds that Lake Margrethe gives us.”
Treston Aurand said her family strongly opposes increased boats on the lake.
“The reason we love this area is because of the clean water,” she said. “We love the minimal boat traffic.”
Hannah Smock also said the dock would deter paddle boarding on the lake.
“I really don’t want to go out that far just to go around a dock,” Smock said.
Dan Compton said the Lake Margrethe Campground, which is maintained by the Department of Natural Resources, offers an ample opportunity to put a boat into the lake.
“I think there are plenty of facilities for getting your boat in, and keeping them in the water and enjoying the lake without a 200-foot dock,” Compton said.
Sherry Hanson questioned why Lapworth wants to place the dock away from his home on the lake.
“He does not want it by his property but he wants by somebody else’s,” Hanson said.
Kleitch said the deadline for written comment regarding the permit is Saturday, Jan. 20. He added that it would be about two months before the DEQ makes a final decision on the permit.
“We can’t freestyle and make things up as we go,” he said. We’ve got to stick to what’s in the law.”
If the permit is approved, the marina project would then go before the Grayling Charter Township Planning Commission for its consideration. A special use permit would be needed since the property is zoned residential and the marina would be a commercial operation.
Bob Dixon, the building and zoning director for Grayling Charter Township, said that the property where the dock is proposed to be built is designated as wetlands. Therefore, Lapworth does not pay property taxes because the property has been deemed unusable. That would change if the DEQ and planning commission approves the project.
“If he gets a dock permit, and he’s able to use that property, that property will go back on the tax rolls,” Dixon said.
Lapworth acknowledged the opposition expressed towards his project, adding that it is uncertain whether it will proceed forward.
“They’re not happy,” Lapworth said. “You can’t make everybody happy. You see that with politics everyday on TV.”
Lapworth said he has no intentions of damaging the lake.
“I don’t think 12 boats will jeopardize or hurt our lake any,” he said.