News Story

Township halts all lake development to stop one couple’s home plans

Long Lake Township moratorium prevents residents from making needed environmental improvements

Long Lake Township is impeding environmentally-friendly property development on local lakes in order to prevent one couple from building a retirement home, according to the couple’s lawyer.

Bob and Carrie Barnes bought two pieces of property on Long Lake in Grand Traverse County to build their retirement home. The project includes a plan to improve the environment and protect the habitat. The couple intend to replace a seawall with native plants that form a habitat for lake-dwelling creatures. They also plan to restore wetlands and create a bioswale to keep contaminants and sediment from reaching the lake.

They were prevented from doing so, however, after the township delayed all development and formed a shoreline committee to address the plan. The committee’s recommendations will affect property owners on all lakes throughout the township, according to Joseph E. Quandt, the attorney for Bob and Carrie Barnes.

The Barnes bought the property, which includes 255 feet of waterfront, with plans to build a home, boathouse, basin, and an entrance channel from the boathouse to the lake.

The township planning commission’s response to their plans was to put a moratorium on creating any man-made or artificial body of water for six months.

The township then formed a shoreline committee to implement new ordinances that will prevent the improvements. Recommendations will prevent boathouses, dredging channels on personal property, and other restrictions.

The Barneses were directly mentioned twice as the impetus for the township ordinance and zoning changes, according to Quandt. In a letter to Ron Lemcool, the Long Lake Township supervisor, Quandt wrote that targeted enforcement violates due process of law.

The couple commissioned an environmental assessment from Cardno, an infrastructure and environmental services company, in response to claims the development plan would harm the environment. The township responded that the boathouse was out of character with the lake and its history, determining that it should not be allowed even with environmental improvements.

Quandt also said the township denied the couple’s request to have a representative attend and speak at committee meetings when they could not attend.

Tina Allen, committee facilitator for the township, denied in an email to Michigan Capitol Confidential that Lemcool had said Quandt “was not allowed to speak at the meetings on behalf of the Barnes Family.” She referred questions about the specific decision on the Barnes property to township staff and officials.

Lemcool did not respond to an email request for comment on Quandt’s claims, the decision to form the shoreline committee, and the township’s reasons for denying the couple’s plans.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.