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Shores Council approves Yacht Club renovations

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — It should now be smooth sailing for the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, with the Shores City Council giving its blessing for a special land use request to enable the club to undertake harbor renovations starting this fall.

The council unanimously approved the request during a meeting Oct. 15, with Mayor Ted Kedzierski — a GPYC member — abstaining from the vote and discussion. The club had been seeking approval for what’s expected to be a multi-year project, with work being done during the offseason. The project involves reconfiguring the harbor within its existing footprint to make it easier to maneuver and includes a reduction of 19 boatwells as some fairways are expanded and some smaller wells are eliminated in favor of larger slips.

Council approval included several conditions, including that the city’s harbor at Osius Park — adjacent to the club’s harbor — not be encumbered by or because of this project, and that the club would work with the city to discuss construction and phasing before each boating season.

Although the number of boat slips is being reduced — including the number of slips the club leases from the city, which are part of this project — club officials have promised the project will be “revenue neutral” for the city, meaning that the city wouldn’t lose any lease funding from these changes. City Attorney Brian Renaud said this aspect of the project couldn’t be included under the special land use approval, but would be part of a contract amendment between the club and the city.

“They need to give us a contract amendment that is acceptable to us,” Renaud said of the GPYC.

Council approval of the project followed unanimous approval from the Shores Planning Commission during a special morning meeting Oct. 3.

During the Oct. 15 council meeting, Planning Commission Chair Mary Matuja told the council that this project should “increase boater safety,” provide “a safer harbor in terms of maneuverability” and reduce boat and automotive traffic due to fewer boatwells.

“From what I see, we’re not going to lose any revenue, the new fairways are cleaner and straighter,” and the GPYC is getting rid of the bridge, City Council member Daniel Schulte said. “It seems like all good things to me, and we’re not impacting the neighbors.”

Matuja said the Planning Commission also recommended that the city and the club investigate the accretion problem north and south of the GPYC and city harbor, and look into the possibility of securing a grant for this.

As a private club, “The Grosse Pointe Yacht Club is very certain they could not get a (government) grant, so therefore it would be up to the city” to secure such funding, Matuja said. Matuja said she anticipated that the club would cooperate with the city and provide necessary expertise, such as the use of the club’s engineers, on such an endeavor.

In response, City Council member Bruce Bisballe made a motion — also unanimously approved by the council — to form a four-member committee made up of residents and Yacht Club representatives to perform a preliminary review of any government funding that might be available to study the accretion issue and what steps the community could take next to address it.

Bisballe said the city was making “no commitment to do anything,” but noted that they were making “a commitment to see if we can find some federal or state money” to remedy the situation.