HARBERT — The Cherry Beach Committee recently sent out the following message to its supporters:
The public lakefront jewel of our community, Cherry Beach Park, is at risk of being damaged from the installation of huge, nearby rock wall revetments. We need your help to stop them. Several homeowners north of Cherry Beach recently applied to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) for beachfront revetment permits aimed at protecting their shoreline from high lake levels.
In a special public meeting on September 29, the Chikaming Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously to object to the applications until an independent engineering study is completed.
Rock wall revetments cause and hasten erosion to adjoining property; Cherry Beach could be literally destroyed by these proposed revetments.
Revetments trap sand on the updrift side and erode the beach on the down drift side. Cherry Beach is on the down drift.
Revetments do long-term damage to the shoreline and its natural features. Walk no further than a half mile south of Cherry Beach to witness the destruction of the shoreline from a 400-foot revetment under construction on private property.
Revetments impede public access to the lakefront.
The association went on to seek signatures by Oct. 30 for the following petition language (to be sent to Michigan authorities at EGLE): Private home-owners have the right to protect their property and there needs to be better State and Federal help and guidelines. But neighboring beaches and precious, public land are at risk as well. There are 7 miles of lakefront in our Township. Only 2% is public. Our community came together over the last two years and raised more than $4 million to expand and protect the treasure that is Cherry Beach. The transaction negotiations to complete the purchase continue at Covid-era pace towards closure, estimated now to be early 2021. We have accomplished so much. We can't come this far only to lose Cherry Beach. Please share the petition and spread the word (those wishing to sign were directed to www.chikamingtownship.org/revetments-petition).
During its Oct. 8 regular meeting, the Chikaming Township Board adopted a resolution that included language stating that the township believes it is imperative to maintain unfettered beach and shoreline access as it currently exists for the benefit of the physical and mental health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the township, and for all visitors who enjoy the beachfront as a means of physical exercise and mental relaxation.
The final paragraph states: “Now therefore it is resolved that access to the shoreline on the beaches of Lake Michigan is a common form of physical exercise and mental relaxation and enjoyment for the citizens of Chikaming Township and other visitors to Southwest Michigan, and that unfettered access below the ordinary high water mark is necessary to help preserve the physical and mental health, safety, and welfare of our local citizens and visitors, and Chikaming Township opposes any action whatsoever , including the building of any structure or placement of any physical barrier of any nature or sort that would interfere with, prohibit, block, or prevent persons from easily walking, , and/or traversing the area below the ordinary high water mark of Lake Michigan from Townline Road, Union Pier to Warren Dunes State Park through Chikaming Township.”