CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP— The Crystal Community Center was filled to capacity at Wednesday night’s public hearing to discuss the new Crystal Township dock and boat ordinance drafted by township attorney Clifford Bloom.
The proposed ordinance replaces existing Ordinance 15-A, which currently controls lake access at Crystal, Duck and Loon lakes.
“I think for the safety and good of the lakes, we need this new ordinance,” said Crystal Township Supervisor Charlie Braman.
The meeting was the first of several meetings aimed at developing a new ordinance to retain quality and safety of Crystal Township lakes, as well as protect rights of riparian owners and lake users. Consideration of public concerns will be used as board members work with Bloom to modify the ordinance draft.
“Those of us who were born and raised here have seen lots of changes on this lake,” said Brenda Greenhoe, lifelong resident of Crystal Lake. “Thank you for trying to make sure that generations to follow us have the same blessings we’ve had.”
Bonnie Kanitz, vice president of the Crystal Lake Association, questioned the new ordinance’s anti-funneling policy.
“This is such a turn from the current ordinance for anti-funneling to going to a dock ordinance,” said Kanitz. “Is that how you plan to control the anti-funneling?”
Kanitz is troubled that the new ordinance doesn’t properly address the potential for a developer to construct a multi-family unit – campground or condominium – and use a 50-foot lot to access the lake. She feels this devalues adjacent property.
“How do you envision the dock (ordinance) replacing the anti-funneling?” Kanitz asked. “I think we could combine the best of the dock with anti-funneling language into one ordinance.”
Braman said there are many concerns, including the township’s ability to enforce the ordinance.
“I’m sure everybody here knows we’ve been sued over our last ordinance (15-A),” he said. “One of the considerations that we’ve got to have is looking at that.”
Ordinance 15-A is difficult to understand and doesn’t allow swimmers to utilize the water, according to Clerk Bob Naumann.
“15-A language stops anti-funneling, but also places unnecessary restrictions,” Naumann said. “This ordinance is an attempt to put something together that will help to preserve this gorgeous lake that we have.”
The new ordinance – affecting lots platted or recorded after Jan. 1, 2012 – allows property owners a four-watercraft limit for each 50-foot dock within a 50-foot parcel.
Joseph Kopchick, owner of the Crystal Lake Sailing Club, has a marine permit. He, however, feels uneasy about the board’s use of the term “grandfathered in.”
“Rather than grandfathering, I would think you’d want to be explicit,” said Kopchick of the new ordinance wording.
The township board agreed the ordinance needs clarification, including whether “grandfathered” rights transfer to new owners.
“We need to have explained to us what all grandfathering does,” Braman said to Kopchick.
Brenda Greenhoe asked about mooring of undocked boats by non-property owners in middle of lake. The draft only mentions mooring at a dock.
“I just think there are a number of people who are mooring vessels in the water that don’t own property,” Greenhoe said. “There’s some gray area there, and if you’re going to implement something, gray areas are always a place for trouble.”
Comments were made as to whether jet skis would be considered the same as boats. Nancy Ayres, lakefront owner, asked about property owners who own more than four boats.
Future meeting dates will be posted at the town hall and in The Gazette and emailed to Crystal Lake Association members.
“We’ll all meet again,” Braman said. “We’re all working for the same thing.”