Local officials push for Smith's Bayou no-wake change

Marie Havenga • Mar 13, 2019 at 12:00 PM

FERRYSBURG — Leaders in Spring Lake Township, Spring Lake Village and the City of Ferrysburg are requesting a change in the no-wake zone near Smith's Bayou in Spring Lake.

Spring Lake Township Supervisor John Nash said he's been attempting to get the no-wake buoys moved “since the turn of the century,” meaning almost 20 years ago.

Last summer, Nash organized a boat ride with officials from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), U.S. Coast Guard and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol. Municipal leaders also were present.

“I didn't want to sit in an office and look at maps,” Nash said.

The officials on the boat tour visited all of the no-wake buoys on Spring Lake. All were deemed in appropriate positions, with the exception of those at Smith's Bayou on the west side of the lake, Nash said.

Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger said local officials have proposed moving the no-wake buoys farther into Spring Lake, from the center line of Reenders Street southwesterly to Veit's Point.

From the Spring Lake village-side vantage point, the proposed no-wake zone would be pushed easterly roughly to a line that matches up with Cutler Street, heading north across Spring Lake, Nash said.

“We're just asking the DNR to look at this,” Bessinger said. “We have been having some comments from some of the residents on Smith's Bayou that the no-wake zone should be moved out farther from the bridge.”

Bessinger said the concerns from residents have included soil erosion and dock damage.

Nash and his fellow boat passengers say it would be wise to move the no-wake buoys farther from the Smith's Bayou bridge. Boaters have migrated from the once-popular party place known as Hanky Pank Bayou farther north in Spring Lake to the Smith's Bayou location, the township supervisor said.

“Since everyone left Hanky Pank and went to Smith's, Smith's no-wake zone is pretty close to the bridge,” Nash said. “Of course, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”

Nash said he's heard complaints from neighboring property owners that boats come in too fast, causing wakes and potentially damaging shoreline and dock structures.

“They almost run up on the beach at Veit's (Landing),” he said. “They've caused a lot of concerns, either coming or going. The thing most people don't understand is that the height of the water exasperates everything. If the water was way down, probably nobody would care. The water is high and it causes a lot of problems.”

Nash said he has been in contact with the DNR to learn the procedure for a potential no-wake zone change.

“We'll send all the information in,” he said. “The DNR will look at it and schedule a public hearing.”

Nash, who lives on Petty's Bayou, said he also hopes to tighten up other Spring Lake buoy locations so they are dropped in more consistent places.

“I want them to put in GPS language because it seems like they vacillate some,” Nash said of the state agency. “I personally think the buoys are way too far out. The idea of a no-wake zone is when it's narrow. When it's not narrow, you don't need it.”

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