BRIDGMAN — The issue of lakeshore property owners seeking permits from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) to build revetment structures on the Lake Michigan shoreline was discussed during an Aug. 31 joint meeting of the Bridgman City Council and the Lake Charter Township Board.
Lake Township Supervisor John Gast said there are eight active EGLE applications (with another “returned”) for revetment structures along the lakeshore in the township.
“They are scheduling a public hearing … that will be on October 7th at 6 p.m. and within the next two weeks they will have a Zoom link to where you can participate,” he said, adding that the hearing will address the eight applications currently under review.
“At this time the Township Board has not taken a position on the issue. We are gathering information from the Dunewood people constantly — we appreciate the input and the letters from the residents and the Lakeshore Preservation Group,” Gast said.
He noted that township officials also are getting documents and information from engineers and others.
It was noted after the meeting that the Township Board has until Sept. 22 to present objections to the state. During that board's Sept. 15 regular meeting the following resolution was passed unanimously:
RESOLUTION CONCERNING PROPOSED PRIVATE REVETMENT IMPROVEMENTS ALONG THE SHORELINE OF LAKE MICHIGAN
WHEREAS, Lake Michigan is at a record high water level and has caused damage, and is expected to cause further damage to lake front properties this fall;
WHEREAS, private landowners have applied to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (the "Department" ) for required perm its to install certain improvements along the shoreline of Lake Michigan located in the Township in effort to slow erosion (the "Applications");
WHEREAS, the Township intends to remain neutral as to the Applications and to encourage only such efforts that do not harm the shoreline;
WHEREAS, the Township has been asked by residents to oppose the Applications;
WHEREAS, the Township prefers revetment methods and materials that minimize impact on the shoreline be utilized;
WHEREAS, this resolution is intend ed by the Township to be interpreted as an expression of its neutral position as to the Applications, and its preference that, in the event the Department approves any or all of the Applications, such approval is limited to methods and materials designed to minimize negative impact on neighboring lands; and
WHEREAS, the Department has the resources and sophistication to review these matters appropriately, and is charged with the duties of protect ing the environment and Great Lakes .
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS FOLLOWS:
1. The Township hereby expresses its intent to remain neutral as to the Applications, but in the event the Department grants a permit, the Township hereby requests such approval requires the use of methods and materials that do not harm neighboring lands.
2. That all resolutions or parts of resolutions, inconsistent with the foregoing are hereby, and the same shall be, rescinded.
During the joint meeting, Bridgman Mayor Vince Rose said that as of Aug. 31 the city had not received any formal requests from EGLE for any type of revetment structures.
He said the city plans to handle such applications (if there are any) as follows: 1. the city building inspector will review the EGLE application to determine if the project includes a structure which will extend onto the sand or into the lake; 2. the building inspector will then meet with the city manager and discuss the application; 3. the City Council will get a report on what is being requested; 4. if the proposed project extends into the beach sand or the lake, the application will be forwarded to the city engineer for review and a written report on the project’s potential impact both on surrounding properties and Weko Beach; 5. Upon receipt of the engineer’s findings a public hearing will be scheduled and noticed, followed by the City Council discussing the issue and how to respond to EGLE; 6. If the majority of the council votes to respond to EGLE in writing, a detailed response will be prepared and sent; 7. Any written response will be prepared so it is received by ELGE within 60 days of the deadline for the community to respond.
Rose said the city’s response policy was passed at the council’s last meeting and will go into effect it they are notified of a proposed EGLE project.
City Manager Juan Ganum said the recently adopted master plan calls for the city to work with Lake Township toward a goal of not allowing for the placement of a seawall or other hardening (also known as “armoring”) along Lake Michigan.
A series of public comments at the conclusion of the joint meeting included several speakers urging Lake Township officials to deny the applications
Several of those making comments also claimed that revetments can cause irreparable damage to the shoreline and negatively affect neighboring properties.
Woodland Shores Beach Association President Gene Schoon noted that a number of people from affected communities such as Dunewood, Wildwood, Woodland Shores and others signed a petition on the issue that was presented to Lake Township officials.
He said the township has the authority under the Critical Dunes Act to consider the public interest when making a decision.
“These revetments that are under consideration would without doubt degrade access to the beach and therefore should not be allowed.”
Also during the Aug. 31 Joint Meeting:
• Bridgman Library Director Dennis Kreps said the library has been providing curbside service since June 19, and has been open by appointment (for 30 minutes at a time) since mid-August. He said the outdoor patio has been transformed into an inviting space with extended WiFi (which is active 24 hours a day and reaches to the parking lot areas). Laptops also are available. He also said the library’s new website is on the verge of going public.
• Gast said Lake Township has hired a Bridgman High School graduate, Alex Mead, to work at the water plant. He also said that a project is ongoing on Holden Road while a drain collapse on that road also is being dealt with.
• Ganum said the city is working toward zoning amendments to create an Interstate Gateway District in the area around Interstate 94 and Red Arrow Highway to make it easier for investment and development. He said Casey’s General Store is looking at purchasing land at the corner of Rambo and Red Arrow. Across the street is slated to be the future home of Dominion Chevrolet.
Ganum also noted that the old Oddfellows Hall (dating from the 1850s and now home to apartments) on Lake Street is being re-sided in a colorful way via a tri-colored, asymetrical pattern.