Grosse Pointe Shores to wait until 2021 to apply for no-anchor zone

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 25, 2020

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GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Boaters using Lake St. Clair near to Grosse Pointe Shores homes may have to abide by some new rules next year.

The Shores City Council recently approved applying for a temporary watercraft determination from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that would create a no-anchor zone 300 feet from the shore. City Councilman Matthew Seely, who introduced the DNR regulation during a July 21 City Council meeting at Osius Park, said the no-anchor zone would roughly be between the north end of Osius Park and the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House.

City Attorney Brian Renaud said the boundary could only be extended to the Wayne County-Macomb County border, not all the way to the Ford House, which, like some Shores homes, is in Macomb, not Wayne. The DNR allows for communities to apply for this type of regulation on a temporary basis, for a six-month duration.

Seely said swimming, wading and use of wave runners would still be permissible in the no-anchor zone.

“It’s a nice way to create a little bit of a buffer (for the lakefront residents),” Seely said.

During an Aug. 18 City Council meeting at Osius Park, Renaud said the DNR official in charge of applications recommended that the city wait until early spring 2021 to apply because, otherwise, the city’s six-month permit would be valid during the dead of winter and not during boating season.

Renaud added that the DNR official said the Shores needs to “nail down who’s got jurisdiction over the waters out here,” whether it’s the city or the county. If it’s the county, Renaud said Wayne County would need to complete the application for a no-anchor zone. He added that a federal statute suggests that all contiguous lakefront communities have some jurisdiction over their waterways up to the international shipping lane.

“There may (also) be a need for an independent (public) hearing, a separate hearing” on this matter, Renaud said.

The council informally concurred with Renaud’s recommendations, but Mayor Ted Kedzierski said no action was needed by the council.

The problem with noisy, rowdy boaters — some of whom have trespassed on waterfront properties — is something the city has been dealing with for years, but it has gotten worse.

Several lakefront homeowners raised their concerns during the July 21 council meeting.

“The boaters — it’s the worst it’s ever been because the water is so high,” lakefront resident Mary Wilson told the council. “For me, I feel like there’s definitely a safety issue, with a lot of the Jet Skis going in and out (between boats and swimmers).”

Dr. Rick Perry, who also lives on Lake St. Clair, said safety is a concern for him, as well. He said he’s seen a number of boaters who he feels don’t seem to have gotten the training to be out on the water, and he recalled a recent incident on his property involving an improperly anchored watercraft.

“For me, it’s more an issue of safety,” Perry said. “I hate to ruin the fun for everyone because of a few bad characters.”

James Thomas, another Lake Shore Road resident, said he’s seen people on the water near the shore engaging “in behavior that was not appropriate in public” that was witnessed by at least two minors. He said boaters, who appear around 11 a.m. and often don’t leave the area before 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., have blasted music from speakers that are so loud, he’s had to call the police.

“Inside of my house, I basically cannot do conference calls,” Thomas said in July. “It makes it impossible to work, especially at these times, when a lot of people are working remotely.”

Cheryl Cusmano, who lives on the water as well, has had similar experiences.

“I don’t mind the boaters,” Cusmano said. “Most of them are very respectful. … But there’s a few with speakers so loud, the house (vibrates).”

Public Safety Director John Schulte said his department is responding to more calls this year from residents about bad boaters.

“I think the problem is worse this year because of the coronavirus,” Schulte said in July. “People aren’t going into the bars and the taverns — they’re going out on the water.”

The council voted unanimously July 21 in favor of a resolution to apply with the DNR’s Law Enforcement division for a local watercraft control provision that would allow the city to create a no-anchor zone.

It’s something that would be studied again after implementation. If it works, the Shores could look into ways to make it a permanent rule.

“We want to make sure it’s the right thing for our community,” Seely said in July. “Those homeowners don’t want to ruin everybody’s boating (experience).”

But Schulte cautioned that buoys alone denoting a no-anchor zone won’t stop some boaters from breaking the rules. He has reached out to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Marine Unit, which has boats to patrol the water, including one that’s stationed — but not usually staffed — at Pier Park in Grosse Pointe Farms. Schulte said one of his officers will be out on the water periodically on the Wayne County boat to enforce the city’s regulations, but while this is a significant step forward in terms of enforcement, the Shores won’t be able to have an officer citing boaters at all times.

“You can post the buoys, but someone has to be out there (on the water) to enforce it,” Schulte said last month.