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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Fight brewing over access to lake
Property owners sue to block DNR Crystal Lake plan

http://www.record-eagle.com/2006/jan/04launch.htm

By PATRICK SULLIVAN Record-Eagle staff writer

BENZONIA - Ann Bourne believes an ugly divide is growing between people who live on Crystal Lake and those who don't, but want good, modern access to it.
"I hear terminology like, 'We want to keep the riffraff off the lake,'" Bourne said. "I never thought I'd see the day in northern Michigan - there's always been mutual respect."
Bourne and others who want to ensure public access to Crystal Lake held a meeting last week with Benzie County and township officials to talk about concerns over the delay of a boat launch proposed by the Department of Natural Resources.
Waterfront property owners formed a group called the Crystal Lake Property Rights Association and filed a lawsuit over the boat launch that challenged the Department of Environmental Quality's approval of a launch permit.
A hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for February.
Robert Bishop, president of the property owners' association, said he doesn't oppose a public boat launch on Crystal Lake. He said he opposes the current location proposed by the DNR near Mollineaux Road.
Bishop said his group opposes the site because it crosses the Betsie Valley Trail and violates a settlement agreement between property owners and the state in a separate lawsuit over the trail.
Jim VanderMaas, a member of the Crystal Lake Access Rights Coalition, said he wants to make sure public officials understand the popular support for the launch, even if its fate is in the hands of the courts.
"We just want to make our county officials aware that there are a lot of people in favor of this site and if you're doing things to oppose this site, election day is around the corner," VanderMaas said.
The DNR first proposed a boat launch in 1996 but selected a site near the Crystal Lake overflow where, in 1873, loggers attempted to dredge a channel to take logs to Lake Michigan, an ill-fated engineering feat that drained the lake by around 20 feet.
Bourne said the site met near-universal opposition, and the DNR eventually settled on the Mollineaux Road location.
William Boik, DNR boating unit manager, said it's unlikely even if the state prevails in the lawsuit that a boat launch could be constructed in time for the 2006 boating season.
Boik said such fights over boat launches are not unheard of across the state.
"I wouldn't say it's common," he said. "I wouldn't say it's unique. It's happened before."
 

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Crystal Lake homeowners have been fighting this for a long time.

I hope the launch gets built. I used to spend a lot of weekends on Crystal and there would be no one boating on the lake because the couple of public accesses are so small.

I hope it gets built. There's no reason why a lake that big (I think it's the 4th or 5th largest in the State) shouldn't have decent public access:fish:
 

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Didn't they just update/enlarge the launch site on the south end in Beulah a few years back?

As far as the "home owners" go didn't they know this lake has had public access' on it for years or did they think this was something new? :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Same story different lake.
This is just another lake access site where the local rich white class fights to violate the "Public Trust" public access rights and keep the working class and minority races from "thier" lake. Some of the local and statewide left-wing "anti fishing" enviromentalist are also backing the lakefront property owners to keep sport fishers from "their" undeveloped lake. Undeveloped for who?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The elitist lefty-wing enviro extremist have been coming out in full force to fight all of you dirty evil redneck gas polluting fishing and speed boat crazies. I knew making Crystal Lake boat launch fight public would bring them out. There have been over a dozen hate emails to me. They don't like the fact I defend "public trust" on behalf of hunters and fishermen. I'll pass on a few examples. I will make one sure prediction that these people will use every dirty trick (deceive, deflect, lie, and borrow all the Republican tricks) and endless deep pockets of local rich Crystal Lake area money to fight the DNR, DEQ, MUCC, and all state outdoor sports organizations to keep the public out of "their" Crystal Lake.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This email was from a female from Traverse Group of the Sierra Club


I happen to live about 5 miles from Crystal Lake and so I feel the need to jump in on this.
My husband and I have swam in Crystal ever since we can both remember. We've seen the degradation of the lake over the past 20 or so years and it's very sad indeed.
Crystal is a beloved place by us "locals". There are several spots on the lake that are fairly secluded (no, I won't tell you where they are...that would be like admitting my favorite Moral mushroom hunting spot!) and amazing spots to sit with a bottle of wine and watch the sunset...or take the kids and know they can swim without fear of being run over by speed boats or jet skis. Beulah beach is a favorite spot for families, with it's nice lake-side park and picnic tables. We have summer-time concerts in the park, and yes, a bunch of us locals gather every Fourth of July for our annual community pot-luck picnic. The development they are talking about would have devastating impacts on the lake, the people, the fish and the area. If you have ever even visited Crystal Lake on a summer day, you would see that there are already way too many boats on the lake. Crystal Lake is NOT that huge! We paddlers can hardly take canoes or kayaks out on the lake with fear of getting turned over by loud, huge speed boats racing around or jet skis flying across the lake at dangerous, outrageous speeds.
What Crystal Lake needs is an improvement to the boat launch that is already there. Regardless of what some people think, there are actually plenty of parking spaces for trucks and trailers just a block from the launch. And the bigger picture in all of this is how it would impact Benzie County (Beulah and Benzonia especially), a county seeing unregulated growth and sprawl.
And I know I will get in big trouble for this, but here goes anyway.....for those of us who grew up in this area (like my husband and myself), or those who have lived here for many years, love the area and the waters, and have seen the impacts from the increasing numbers of downstaters and out of staters who come, use our lakes and parks, leave their trash and pollute our land and our water, it's getting pretty hard to take....and harder to feel like we should be fighting so hard to protect what we are so fortunate to live with year-round. I salute the residents of Benzie who are fighting to protect Crystal Lake. I'm standing with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Friends,
I note the traffic on enviro-mich concerning a proposed boat launch on
Crystal Lake. The Michigan Land Use Institute's Beulah office is located
two blocks from the lakeshore. We've been following the developments around a proposed new boat access since 1998, when the Department of Natural Resources first made its plans public.

A good piece on the issue was published on our Web site nearly two years
ago. The sidebar includes a proposal we and other organizations here made
at that time to significantly down-size the boat access installation that
the DNR wanted to build.

See it here: http://www.mlui.org/landwater/fullarticle.asp?fileid=16655

A number of organizations in this county, including elected officials, met
consistently for months in 2003 and 2004 to develop a consensus around the
proposed new access site. We thought a consensus had developed around a
smaller site but Ann Bourne, representing Citizens For Positive Planning,
sided with the then chair of the Benzie County Commission and some
politically prominent boat owners and anglers.They asserted that the large
site proposed by the state was necessary. Bourne and her supporters framed
their argument around the view that lake front property owners were trying
to keep regular folks off the lake. It was disappointing, to say the least,
to watch Citizens For Positive Planning embrace that false and divisive
strategy. In fact, the Crystal Lake Association and the Crystal Lake
Watershed Fund, the two lake front property owner groups, actively and
publicly supported the idea of a smaller access site and consistently made
that view plain in their testimony at a public hearing early in 2004.

There are significant issues surrounding the site the DNR chose, including
the fact that the boat ramp lies at the bottom of a high and steep bluff,
and that boat owners would need to climb up and down many stories of stairs
to get to and from their vehicles. In other words, the site was likely to
be less easy to use than the current public boat ramp in Beulah. It was a
widely shared view at the time that the vertical design of the site, the
physical exertion that would be necessary to use the site, could be a
nuisance/inconvenience/barrier to some boat owners.

There is an opportunity to revive what we are convinced is the entirely
reasonable proposal to build a right-size boat launch. The former chair of
the Benzie County commission, who was a champion of the large boat launch,
lost his race for re-election. There are smart, reasonable, and
environmentally-minded leaders on the county board and great resolve in the
community to secure Crystal Lake and find a reasoned approach to enabling
safe boat access.

Our lead on this project is Jim Lively and is reachable at 231-941-6584
ext. 13 or [email protected]. Thanks so much, Keith Schneider, Michigan Land Use
Institute.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Keith Schneider noted:
There are significant issues surrounding the site the DNR chose, including the fact that the boat ramp lies at the bottom of a high and steep bluff, and that boat owners would need to climb up and down many stories of stairs to get to and from their vehicles. In other words, the site was likely to be less easy to use than the current public boat ramp in Beulah. It was a
widely shared view at the time that the vertical design of the site, the physical exertion that would be necessary to use the site, could be a nuisance/inconvenience/barrier to some boat owners.

Sportsmen note:
Schneider's statement is another reason to establish 4-6 additional boat launches. The DNR on behalf state outdoor sportsmen had to take what ever launch site they could get to help make up for the tiny site in Beulah. Fishermen are used to using 4x4 drive if needed to launch a boat as no big deal. As future decent launch sites are established the public will pick the launch at the safest location closest to the current fishing spot. The DNR/DEQ/MUCC/tourist understand the local mind set of lake locals keeping the rednecks and minorities out of their "rich whitey" lakes. The local lake residents of Crystal Lake area would love to keep down-state residents at the back of the bus away from West Michigan, but the fact they built their own homes on the lakeshore to destroy the lakeshore shows what hypocrites they are. They preach the greenbelt hype, but their own homes destroyed the greenbelt of the lake. The public fishermen have the right to fish a public lake, enjoy the day with the kids, and take a healthy natural food home for a meal. The local snobs will get use to it.
 

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I have spent a half dozen Fourth of July weekends at a former inlaw's home on South Shore Drive on Crystal Lake, basically mid way between Beulah and Frankfort. I would be shocked that even on the 4th of July itself, there would be less than a handful of boats on the lake during the entire day. On a non holiday summer weekend, there often wouldn't be any boats.

The lake front owners believe it's their lake and only their lake. I saw a lot of crazy stuff, including owners yelling at jet skiers who were idling well off shore from their cottages. The most amazing thing that I saw was a cottage owner who ran down her dock banging pots and pans to scare away a mother merganser with chicks which was swimming by her beach.

The mergansers were here a long time before the cottages as the Betsie River and Betsie Bay were named after the mergansers seen in the area by French explorers. Apparently, the mergansers, like the non lake front owners, have no right to use the lake.

I would listen to the lakeshore cottage owners complain bitterly about ANY plan to build an improved public launch and I would hear first hand about the outcries raised by cottage owners at the public hearings. Those outcries were just as loud as their complaints about how high their property taxes are.

Poor, rich babies.

I don't think you can buy even a shack on Crystal for less than $500,000.

The Lake is our resource. There should be more public access. A bunch of millionaires trying to keep Crystal to themselves is against the entire ethos that our country is based on equality, not on monarchial superiority.

There should be more public access in fairness to the residents of our State.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
FYI the environmental extremist wackos of the town of Beulah and Crystal Lake have had their cohorts come out of the woodwork statewide to bombard my email (far too many to post here). They are now organizing statewide to keep the DNR, MUCC members, M-S.com members, and fishing tourist away from "their" Crystal Lake by any means possible. There are "WovenWomen Edie" types and others saying the Beulah boat launch is much too big for Crystal Lake and only a few "rowboats only" should be allowed their lake, blah, blah, and blah.......

It is time for state wide notice to go out to all outdoor sports and general tourist to not spend any dollars in Benzie County, but then those rich racist snobs of Crystal Lake area wouldn't care anyway.
 

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Hamilton Reef said:
This email was from a female from Traverse Group of the Sierra Club

...those who have lived here for many years, love the area and the waters, and have seen the impacts from the increasing numbers of downstaters and out of staters who come, use our lakes and parks, leave their trash and pollute our land and our water, quote]

There's the mindset of those opposing the boat launch.
Even though, by law, the lake is public waters held by the State for all citizens of Michigan, they believe they are better than the rest and should have sole use of the lake. In a word, B***S***.
 

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I say we....DRAIN THE WHOLE DAM LAKE....then nobody will need to dispute.....how many people.....how many boats......how steep the hills.....parking spaces....etc...etc...etc..."The real problem"......"""HUMANITY"""....."""OH THE HUMANITY""".....OF IT ALL...:help:
 

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If they dont want the public to use it then this lake should have been deemed private before any homes were built around it.Since it is not and these home owners want to deny public right away or use of the lake then if this lake is stocked from state or dnr funds stop and let them pay for it.Better than draining it if the public is denied access then someone should just go dump a few gallons of ronetone in the water.That would teach them about being stingy of the waters.:evil:
 

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I have only been to Crystal once. It was 3 or 4 years ago on Fourth of July weekend. When I tried to launch my boat I was yelled at by people saying that there was no room for my boat. Even though i had friends that lived on the lake and we were parking at their house. The bottom of my trailer scraped on the pavement of the launch. My boat is only a 20' speed boat, not a cabin cruiser. When we got out on the lake it was practically empty. I saw maybe 5 jet skis and 6 boats. And this is a huge lake. There is no way people can be complaining about the number of boats on a regular basis. My friend whose parents live up there said that it is still empty especially compared to a lot of the other lakes we have been to like Elk, Torch, and Higgins. They need another boat launch sp everyone can enjoy this beautiful lake. This is jusy MHO of course. I have no scientific evidence to back it up.
 

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I agree with C&R, these guys just want it all for themselves. The funny things is, when the NPS was doing their new management plans for sleeping Bear dunes, there were some of these same guys there screaming about having open access within the park. Furthermore, I also agree that if these guys win the lawsuit, that should be the end of the fish stocking for that lake, tragic I know, but they don't deserve the sportsmans dollors to come there and fish. This lake doesn't get fished all that much in the summer, but in the winter it gets fished quite heavily. When I live up there, about a mile away from the lake, it was incredible how many icefisherpeople there were on any given weekend. This boat launch is needed, and yet this lake in underutiliized for its size. I don't think that people with high powered speed boats will be that big of a problem, this lake is well patrolled by the local sheriffs department, and these boats have no where to run to, see I don't see a problem there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Speed is not the real problem. Going from point A to B can be done safely as on any other large lake. The enviros don't want any boats on 'their' lake period. Remember the local rich enviros can be the biggest hypocrites right after they got theirs first, screw the public trust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Launch debate spawns back-room allegations
Proponents are questioning lawyer's hiring

http://www.record-eagle.com/2006/jan/17crystal.htm

BEULAH - Larry Harju likes to take his 17-foot aluminum boat out on Crystal Lake to fish for perch, lake trout and whitefish.
Many days, Harju says, he can't launch a boat at the lake's only paved public ramp in Beulah, either because he'd have to park too far away or because wind from the west makes the water at the ramp too rough.
A proposed Department of Natural Resources boat launch on the south side of Crystal Lake would make it much easier to access the lake, but Harju and other Benzie County residents worry that a behind-the-scenes effort is afoot to undermine that plan.
Already a lawsuit has pitted lakefront property owners against state agencies and those who want enhanced Crystal Lake access.
"I don't think they own any of that water," Harju said. "I think the citizens of Michigan own the water, and they have the right to use it."
Proponents of the new boat launch - it would include two double boat ramps and more than 100 parking spots - suspect that county administrator Chuck Clarke, who owns Crystal Lake waterfront property, hired Traverse City attorney James Olson to tweak county zoning in favor of those who want to block or trim the launch site.
Olson and Clarke deny any back-room plot exists. Clarke said Olson was hired to review amendments to the county's zoning because he is an expert in zoning and environmental law.
The board of commissioners is expected to decide today whether to oust Olson at the request of county planning commissioners, who last week unanimously voted to ask the county board to "reconsider" Olson's hiring.
Some planning commissioners praised Olson's work, but Donald Tanner, a planning commissioner and former county board chair, said he worries about a memo Olson wrote in 2002 to the Crystal Lake Watershed Fund that outlines a legal strategy to contest "the size, scale, and design of a DNR Boat Ramp."
"It's almost as if we're using county taxpayer dollars to do the litigation for the people on Crystal Lake," Tanner said. "All of a sudden it appears we're trying to craft language that's going to be prohibitive. That's what's concerning me."
The Crystal Lake Property Rights Association sued the county and state in 2004 to block the ramp proposed for a location near Mollineaux Road.
County administrator Clarke is a board member of Crystal Lake & Watershed Association - separate from the Crystal Lake Property Rights Association - and said he is not attempting to block the boat launch.
He pointed to a memo he wrote in 2001 when he was president of the Crystal Lake Watershed Fund - a group that later merged with the watershed association - that expressed support for the DNR's proposed location.
Clarke said he was unaware of Olson's memo when he hired Olson to review county zoning. He said Tanner first brought it to his attention after Olson was hired, and he doesn't recall seeing the memo in 2002.
"I may have received it, but I probably didn't read it," Clarke said.
Olson said the memo was written in an effort to get his firm hired to represent the watershed fund. The organization opted for someone else.
Olson said changes in zoning could affect the boat launch, but he said he was not hired to interfere.
"I don't oppose the boat ramp; I actually personally support a boat ramp if it's properly sized and designed," Olson said.
In a memo Olson wrote to Clarke this month about a "possible conflict of interest," Olson said he doesn't have a conflict, but suggested he avoid work on zoning issues that could affect the boat ramp.
Tanner and county commissioner Steve Haugen also question how Olson was hired in November without approval from the board.
Board chairman Donald Howard said Olson was hired in accordance with board rules that allow the hiring of an attorney between sessions with the approval of the chair or the vice chair.
Howard said Olson needed to be hired because a state zoning expert informed the county he could no longer consult on the zoning amendments.
Tanner said he doesn't believe Olson needed to be hired under a provision he said should be used only in emergencies.
"You have a number of commissioners who have no idea how we got Olson as our attorney, and that just stinks, frankly," Tanner said.
Howard said he was not sure what the county board would do with the planning commission's recommendation, but said the board would talk it over.
"If they don't have confidence in the working relationship with the attorney provided for them, that should be something we should talk about," Howard said. "But it will be a board decision."
 

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i pay my taxes. i buy hunting and fishing licenses. its my lake too.
end of FREAKING story.

there is the same problem in indiana. i've been harassed several times fishing near someones pier on some very heavily used public lakes. my usual response is "call the police -- i'll wait."
 
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