By Joseph E. Quandt
An Oct. 29 forum (“Protecting a global treasure: Northern Michigan lakes”) uses misinformation and scare tactics in support of an effort to institute draconian new government regulations at the expense of private property rights.
At issue is a private property owner’s proposal in Long Lake Township to build a boathouse on their property and a short inland canal to access it. Project opponents completely mischaracterize the proposal and intentionally leave out the numerous environmental and conservation benefits of the project the homeowner plans to undertake.
First, despite the opposition’s claims, one of the world’s most credentialed hydraulic sedimentation scientists testified in a recent administrative trail that significant analysis at the site demonstrates the small dredged area will not need to be re-dredged for decades, if ever.
Second, testimony from fisheries biologists and other credentialed professionals on the impacts to the littoral zone and fish habitat again demonstrate that there would be insignificant, if any, impacts on these resources. Worse yet, efforts of project opponents would prohibit similar private conservation and improvement efforts of other private property owners.
The private property owners in this project plan to significantly improve the shoreline by removing a 255-foot driven sheet-pile steel seawall and replace it with a naturally vegetated shoreline. This private conservation project also would improve water quality by adding wetlands, removing a discharge culvert that currently allows untreated road runoff to flow into Long Lake, constructing a rain garden and bioswale to treat uncontrolled and contaminated runoff and includes stormwater management improvements to protect lake ecology.
Project opponents conceal these conservation improvements and, instead, trot out misinformation against the project simply because it does not fulfill their vision of what should be on someone else’s property. And, in the process, want to ban all future private property owners from undertaking such projects to improve the lake.
Of course, it’s unseemly to say that you just don’t share someone else’s vision for their private property, so instead this objection is cloaked in the framework of “protecting the environment,” backfilled with whatever poor science will fill that vacuum. It appears it’s safe to say that many of the project opponents have never visited the site.
Long Lake Township already has enough regulations placed on private property owners. It should not bend to activists who simply see a destiny for their neighbor’s property which is different from the destiny their neighbor would choose.
Instead, by working together, we can protect our lakes without our government eliminating private property rights. This project is proof.
About the author: Joseph E. Quandt is a Traverse City attorney who has practiced environmental law for nearly 30 years.