2011 and Earlier / News

Opposition strong against Glen Lake marina plans

Opponents to the expansion of an existing marina — including the Glen Lake Lake Association — have forced a public hearing on the application.

Robyn Schmidt of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) office in Cadillac has confirmed that the agency will be holding a hearing on a request from Michigan Fun Ventures Inc. to expand On the Narrows Marina by 39 slips and the number of buoys for boats from 12 to 15. By law, the public has 20 days from the date of the permit’s posting to request a public hearing by the DEQ on the issue.

“We’ve received one hundred plus, so far,” Schmidt said on the number of comments. “We expect to hold a public hearing in the first part of March.”

The application was the subject of a special meeting of the Glen Arbor Township Board Thursday afternoon. Initially the meeting was scheduled to be held in the meeting room at the township office but, was relocated as officials realized that the audience would be much larger than the dozen or so seats in the meeting room. An estimated crowd of 60 gathered in the upper level of the hall.

No one was present to represent the McCahill family, which two years ago purchased the marina. The family resides in Colorado.

“If the DEQ issues a positive opinion, then we’d proceed with our independent process,” said Treasurer Terry Gretzema, who chaired the meeting in the absence of a vacationing Supervisor John Soderholm. “Land issues fall to the township. That process has not even begun.”

Zoning administrator Bob Hawley explained that On the Narrows is one of three non-conforming marina operations in the township. As such, the marinas are allowed to operate as they did when zoning was adopted in the 1970s. However, if they seek to change or expand the use in any way, the marina would have to comply with current zoning.

Marinas would fall under “resort” zoning which, when it applies to inns, requires one parking space for each unit. This too, would apply to the number of boat slips, according to Hawley.

Concerns were expressed about a lack of parking available for the existing operation, pedestrian traffic across M-22 and increased boat traffic on the north side of the Glen Lake Narrows.

The meeting chair acknowledged the concerns but suggested the DEQ should be contacted with input directly related to use of the natural resources.

The water quality committee of the Glen Lake Association has done just that.

In letter sent to the DEQ over the weekend, committee co-chairs Mike and Sarah Litch said they believe the negative effects impacting water quality and safety don’t justify the proposed expansion.

The association’s DEQ-approved watershed management plan seeks responsible limits for usage of navigable waters.

“Although a formal carrying capacity limit has not been establish, we believe that on little Glen Lake, at the present time we have approached that limit,” the letter states.

The association’s water quality testers, which collect samples during the summer months, have noted very heavy boat traffic in little Glen Lake and under the bridge connecting the Glen Lake basins.

“Since the … expansion is just to the north side of this point, it is probable that this would create hazardous conditions, both at the channel and Little Glen,” the letter states.

The committee also expressed concerns about oils, gas and grease toxins that could threaten the fishery and other indigenous aquatic life. It also suggested that expansion of a parking area along M-22 would increase toxin runoff into the lake.

While the committee’s letter was professional and civil, some letters circulating around the community suggest the McCahills held off applying for the permit until the winter months when fewer seasonal residents are available to comment.

Although there was no one present to represent the McCahills, Gretzema read a letter from Thomas McCahill written on behalf of his family.

“We understand what a tremendous and unique resource Glen Lake is. However, we believe it’s a public resource and should be available to residents, families and tourists in addition to those who own property on the lake.” he wrote. “All we ask is to keep an open mind and be civil. We recognize concerns and issues and will address them a the appropriate forum and time.”

Schmidt has been asked to postpone the public hearing until spring when a greater number of residents will be available to comment. She said a delay isn’t possible.

“Our deadlines by statute are that a public hearing has to be held within 60 days of the application,” Schmidt said. “With the public hearing, there will be additional opportunity to comment. But we can’t delay it until May or June.”

By Amy Hubbell
of the Enterprise staff
amy@leelanaunews.com

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