Township Manager Gordon Gallagher said “staff will do some research” and determine if there are alternatives to the full-speed zone that property owners say is an “accident waiting to happen.”
Both Spring Lake and Grand Haven townships have jurisdiction over that stretch of the river, which flows from the mouth of Pottawattomie Bayou west toward Robbins Road. The municipal rights of the two townships extend to the center of the waterway.
Concerned residents approached the Grand Haven Township Board last month.
Retired U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Roger Dubuc, who lives along the river in Grand Haven Township, told the Spring Lake Township Board that the river narrows in front of his home, and wakes from passing boats have been so large that they knocked his 21-foot ski boat out of its cradle.
“We have a real safety problem,” Dubuc said. “Somebody is going to get killed out there. We need to get out in front of this thing before it happens.”
Unless there is a posted no-wake zone, or boats are within 100 feet of a dock or moored boat, watercraft is allowed to go 55 mph on inland waters in Michigan. Residents told the Spring Lake Township Board it is not uncommon to see boats flying past their house at such speeds.
But several board members said they are reluctant to support a no-wake zone, in part because of the difficulty of enforcing it.
Trustee Larry Mierle, who has lived on the Grand River off Boom Road for 70 years, said he's concerned about taking away the rights of boaters. He said already many formerly unrestricted waterways have been changed to slow zones.
All of Spring Lake is no-wake for vessels 26 feet and above. Many of the bayous and stretches of the Grand River are no-wake for all watercraft.
“We are a recreational area and you're trying to take away all that,” Mierle said. “It's not just boating — you're taking away water skiing."
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.