Huron County, Michigan – The Lake Township Board has been forced to schedule a hearing on May 25th, just before the Memorial Day holiday due to pressure from resident concerns over the proposed elimination of current zoning restrictions of beach easements. The Lake Township Planning Commission is currently considering elimination of Section 1203.4 regarding restrictions on beach easements in the township. The issue was tabled and the board asked Huron County Planning Commission for guidance.
ThumbWind.com has learned that the State of Michigan is clamping down hard on those easements with multiple boat hoists or dockage arrangements coming out of common “access only” easements. The State is viewing such an arrangement as a meeting the criteria of a marina. Higgins Lake in Roscommon County has been the location with recent mitigation action where homeowner associations have erected dockage allowing multiple watercraft to be moored or secured within a commons area on the lake. The State views these arrangements as a marina.
The Lake Township board is looking to eliminate zoning restrictions which have been in effect since 2007 thinking that it may infringe upon the authority of the State of Michigan to regulate its navigable waterways. However residents currently located in easements affected by the zoning cite that the Lake Township zoning provisions offers a “guard rail” as to the proper use of an easement. Some homeowners with easement rights are mis-informed as to what their use provisions are. Some believe it includes year- around storage of boats, hoists and other recreational items. It was further noted that a total elimination of Section 1203.4 would place any improvements on easement property outside of zoning authority of the Township. The meeting scheduled for May 25th at the Lake Township hall promises to be interesting and ThumbWind.com will be there.
Lake Township, Michigan. Feb 22, 2012 – Despite pleas from local residents and numerous letters from seasonal owners, the Lake Township Planning Board struck down an ordnance put in place in 2008 that has served to place usage restrictions on private easements. The ordinance served to restrict the number of boat hoists on private beach easements and prevent storage of boats, hoists, docks and rafts during the winter months. Local property owners lobbied for the restrictions in 2007 because beach easements were crowded with hoists in the water and becoming dumping grounds for abandoned boats and hoists from nearby cottages.
In comment and written correspondence to the Planning board there was a public comment of 10 to 3 of keeping Section 1203.4 in place with the beach easement zoning restrictions. Regardless, the board killed the measure. The Lake Township Planning board consists of Dave Szumlinski, Dale Hartsell, Jeff Krohn, Paul Golsch, and Gordon Krueger.
Township May Cede Jurisdiction Back to Huron County
Comments by local residents to ThumbWind.com have hinted that the Lake Township Planning Board may give up its oversight of private beach easements to Huron County. It’s expected that the Lake Township Board will now vote on adopting Huron county’s zoning. Calls to Huron County zoning board cited county ordinances that prevent storage of boats, hoists, on easements. However there is still an open issue as to the number of boat hoists that may be placed off-shore of a private easement.
In the February issue of BoatUS there was a special report on activity taken by several states to ban copper marine anti-fouling bottom paint by 2020. Copper is added to bottom paint as a biocide to prevent slime, plant and zebra mussels from attaching onto the hull. The typical recreational boat sits in her slip much of the time the copper coating in the paint slowly leaches into the water and settles in the bottom. While copper is a naturally occurring element, especially in Michigan, the concentrations in the silt since its introduction in the late 1980s has created a poisonous wasteland in the basins in some of ports and marinas according to the EPA.
Michigan has over 200 marinas and over 900,000 registered watercraft. It’s only a matter of time before the issue hits our shores. Currently only Washington and California are actively taking steps to curb the use of copper bottom paint.
Current alternatives to copper based anti-fouling paint are being developed but have serious environment and cost concerns. Switching to a non-biocide or organic requires stripping the existing coating from the hull. This can cost thousands of dollars and create a copper laden dust which is considered hazardous waste. Application of the new coating requires the use of a sprayer. However has the commodity cost of copper skyrockets environmentally friendly alternatives may be cheaper in the long run.
It may be several years before Michigan lawmakers consider taking similar steps. In the mean time paint manufactures will continue to develop and refine non copper alternatives. Boaters should keep this issue in mind when they prepare their craft for the next boating season.