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A major step brings new boat launch on Crystal Lake closer to reality

Started by djkimmel, September 25, 2006, 12:53:59 AM

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Quite the battle going on here for a while now - the MDNR wants to put a decent public access site on the very large lake in Benzie county - Crystal Lake has poor and limited access now despite being one of Michigan's largest inland lakes. The locals are fighting it tooth and nail because, as usual, they don't want anyone on their lake. A recent court decision has brought the proposed access site closer to reality:

Judge rules in favor of Crystal Lake boat launch
James Batzer dismisses challenges brought by group


BEULAH ? A judge's ruling brings a Department of Natural Resources boat ramp on Crystal Lake one step closer to launch.

Circuit Court Judge James Batzer issued an opinion this week to dismiss a case against the state and Benzie County over the boat launch brought by a group called the Crystal Lake Property Rights Association.

Proponents of the boat launch believe it is critical to the public's ability to use the lake because the lake's other ramp in Beulah is insufficient to meet demand. Opponents say they don't like the proposed location near Mollineaux Road in Benzonia Township and that plans call for too much parking and too much development.

Batzer dismissed challenges to the ramp that were based on a settlement in an earlier case over the Betsie Valley Trail, which runs through the site of the proposed launch. Ramp opponents said the settlement in the Betsie Valley Trail case prohibits development of public parks along the bike trail or additional access points.

Batzer also dismissed an aspect of the lawsuit that challenged a permit for the boat launch issued by the Department of Environmental Quality because that matter will be taken up at a DEQ administrative hearing anyway.

The challenge to the permit will be reviewed by the DEQ's administrative hearings division. That appeal process is expected to begin next month but will have to run its course before the ramp can be built, state officials said.

The decision was great news to Jim VanderMaas, former chair of the Crystal Lake Access Rights Coalition.

"The judge ruled correctly because the people of the state of Michigan own Crystal Lake," VanderMaas said. "I'm elated. It just sounds like to me that Judge Batzer is using the rule of law."

VanderMaas said the boat launch and the bike trail have nothing to do with each other and the boat launch will be used by boaters, not people who want to use the trail.

Robert Bishop, president of the Crystal Lake Property Rights Association, disagrees. He believes the facilities built for the boat ramp will lead to more people using the bike trail ? a result, be believes, that violates the earlier agreement over the trail.

"Obviously, we're very disappointed," Bishop said. "The judge's decision clearly indicates that a contract or an agreement doesn't mean much in Benzie County."

He said no decision has been made over whether to appeal Batzer's decision.

State officials were happy with the verdict but said it's too early to say when construction of the new ramp could start.

"We're very, very pleased with the decision," said Vicki Anthes, chief of the DNR's planning section. "It puts us a lot closer to where we can provide good public access to Crystal Lake."

Help stop invasive spcies. Don't move fish between unconnected bodies of water. Clean, drain and dry your boat before launching on another water body.
Unless clearly stated as such, opinions expressed by Dan Kimmel on this forum are not the opinions or policies of The Bass Federation of Michigan.


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