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Township to appeal DNR ruling for five lakes

By Lisa Brody

At the township board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, April 24, a unanimous decision was reached to appeal the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) finding on local watercraft control, where they determined that the township's 10 lakes can have slow no-wake lake ordinances, but not no motorboats, as has been followed by the lakes since 1970.

At the April 8 township board meeting, it was learned that after a lengthy process, the DNR had determined that local watercraft control was not warranted, permitting only slow no-wake ordinances to be adopted on the lakes. At that meeting, township attorney Derk Beckerleg advised that while he did not agree with the DNR's ruling, he felt an appeal would be “futile.” He also advised trustees to adopt the current ordinances in order to get them in place for this summer's boat season. Trustees adopted a local watercraft ordinance at the April 24 meeting for Wing Lake, Gilbert Lake, Chalmers Lake, Wabeek Lake, Orange Lake, Sodon Lake, Forest Lake, Lower Long Lake, Meadow Lake and Island Lake.

However, trustees disagreed with Beckerleg's advise regarding an appeal to the DNR. Clerk Martin Brook noted, “For half a century, since 1970, our lakes have been safe, and we want to maintain the quiet. Now we're talking about what to do next… We want to fight.”

He and treasurer Michael Schostak said they have already been in talks with local legislators to change the law to make the DNR responsible to local control, rather than determining if local control is permissible.

Brook said it was determined they would not appeal to the DNR for Chalmers, Meadow, Orange Sodon or Wabeek lakes, as they are all smaller than 40 acres in size with no launch or natural launch, meaning it was very unlikely a motorized boat could be launched on one of the lakes. The focus of the township's appeal will be on the five larger lakes in the township – Wing, Gilbert, Lower Long, Island and Forest lakes, he said, “and we'll continue to pursue a 'no motor boat' ordinance via a second petition for all the lakes,” with the DNR.

All of the lakes in Bloomfield Township are private, with no public access.

“We know it's a long shot,” Brook said. He said all of the homeowners' associations and homeowners have been apprised and are being worked with.

“I respect Derk's opinion, but I feel it's important to be strong advocates for our residents, and I'm 100 percent supportive of this,” said trustee Neal Barnett. “We have the opportunity to put a case together for our residents.”

Trustees voted 6-0 to present an appeal to the DNR, with supervisor Dani Walsh not in attendance.


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