Both Spring Lake and Grand Haven townships have jurisdiction over that portion of the river, which flows from the mouth of Pottawattomie Bayou west toward Robbins Road. Both townships' municipal rights extend to the center of the waterway.
The Spring Lake Township Board discussed the proposal this week, but tabled the matter until next month. The Grand Haven Township Board will throttle up the subject at its Sept. 23 meeting.
If both boards approve the change, the new legislation would make it illegal for boats 26 feet and longer to operate faster than a "no-wake" speed.
All of Spring Lake is no-wake for vessels 26 feet and longer. Many of the bayous and stretches of the river are no-wake for all watercraft.
Last year, residents approached both township boards to express concern over the high speed of vessels in that mostly residential stretch of the river.
Retired Coast Guard Cmdr. Roger Dubuc, who lives along the river in Grand Haven Township, told Spring Lake Township officials that the river narrows in front of his home and wakes have been so large that they knocked his 21-foot ski boat off its lift cradle.
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 Michigan's inland waters. Residents told board members it is not uncommon for vessels to travel that fast past their homes.
In August, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources concluded that “significant conditions exist that support establishment of controls more restrictive than those currently” in place.
The township boards have 60 days from the Aug. 28 state letter to approve or disapprove the no-wake zone, according to Ron Bultje, who is the legal counsel for both townships.
Offenders could face a civil fine of $50 or more. Repeat violations within six months would cost $250 or more. A third violation throttles up the fees to more than $500.
Buoys marking the no-wake area likely would not be in place until next year.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.