2012-06-14 / Letters to the Editor

PA 56 needs to be amended

This summer will be an interesting test as to whether Public Act 56 will really allow additional access to our lakes throughout Michigan, including Higgins Lake, where the original road end controversy started. I seriously doubt it will and I expect lake access will be restricted even more. Our road end will probably not have a dock because of these new regulations. What will happen when thousands go to visit their local road end and there won’t be a dock to access the lake? Will there be an outcry?

There is a solution if our politicians have the political will to do so. It should also meet the approval of everyone including lakefront owners who have argued for years that those putting hoists at the road ends were stealing from everyone.

PA 56 needs to be amended to allow the townships to fully regulate the road ends instead of only allowing them to partially regulate the road ends. Under present law they can only regulate docks. Full regulation of our road ends is the only answer. If townships were allowed to issue permits for boat hoists at a reasonable cost, say $300, local non-lake front owners would happily pay that cost and the township would benefit in many ways. Revenue would come pouring in, property values would go up stabilizing our tax base up and the citizens of Michigan would have greater access to our lakes because docks would be available for lake access. Under current law, there is little incentive or reason to place a dock at most road ends.

Under PA 56 the only way a local property owner without lake access rights can have a boat on Higgins Lake is to rent one from the $3 million marina boondoggle for $1,300. To make things worse, it’s the only one on the lake. In most cases, it takes a considerable effort to get to your $1,300 boat slip. If you don’t purchase a $1,300 boat slip you have to drive a considerable distance to launch your boat which puts an additional strain on our public access sites. Permitted boat hoists would be a win-win for everyone. Regulated lake access is what the lakefront owners have always wanted and the argument that “backlotters” were stealing from the public would go away because they would be paying for regulated access.

Of course, as [Resorter letter writer] Mr. Micheal Guy professes, responsible safety constraints would have to be implemented, including the number of hoists allowed.

Unfortunately, I can hear the cries from the lakefront associations now; “Jacobs, Jacobs, what about Jacobs?” As I mentioned last week, the Jacobs ruling goes away when the legislature passes laws. Jacobs happened because there was no law. Jacobs is a court ruling and the courts are there to interpret the law, not make the law. Write your congressman or senator in support of such an amendment. The fight is not over.

Eric Ostergren


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