Consideration needed in dock expansion projects
Aug 18, 2014
With it comes boats, fishing, and other forms of water fun and uses. With the economy back in stride, boaters say local marinas are at or near capacity.
How to meet the demand without surrendering too much of our precious resource is the trick. And that’s where government regulation has to balance the interests of the general public with those of marinas and boaters.
Barrett Boat Works has long wanted to add three docks of up to 291 feet and a fourth for services from its marina into Spring Lake. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had initially denied issuing a permit for the project, but that was overturned and the state agency ended up issuing a permit for it four years ago.
However, last month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shot down the long-standing plan. According to Katie Otanez, regulatory project manager for the corps’ Detroit District, the denial was “based on adverse impact to navigation and safety.”
Before making its decision, the Corps of Engineers said it took into consideration more than 50 comments from the public.
While we agree that boating is a big part of our local economy and should be accommodated, it shouldn’t be at the expense of giving away public waterways.
There may be other options that should be more fully explored before building more and longer docks. Perhaps more in-and-out boat services? More and easier-to-use launch sites? How about expanding the parking areas for boaters that launch at Harbor Island?
What we can’t tolerate is using up the navigable waterway itself — the very water the boaters use — just to provide more places to dock.
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