Grosse Pointe Shores seeks no-anchor zone for part of shoreline

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 25, 2021

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GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Grosse Pointe Shores officials are hoping to increase safety and decrease noise along the Lake St. Clair shoreline this summer.

This spring, the city applied for a temporary watercraft determination from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that would create a no-anchor zone 300 feet from the shore. During a meeting by Zoom March 16, the Shores City Council voted unanimously in favor of the application.

The no-anchor zone would roughly extend from the north end of Osius Park to 956 Lake Shore Road. City Attorney Brian Renaud said last year that the boundary could only be extended to the Wayne County-Macomb County border, not all the way to the Edsel and Eleanor 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.

Waterfront residents have been dealing with noisy, rowdy boaters — some of whom have gotten out of their watercrafts and trespassed on residential properties — for years, but the problem has gotten worse in the last couple of years because of high water levels.

In addition to loud music and partying, residents have seen personal watercrafts zipping at high speed in between anchored boats while people are wading or swimming near those boats. Residents and city officials have both expressed concerns that a swimmer could easily be injured or killed by a personal watercraft because the watercraft operator might not be able to see the swimmer in time to avoid a collision.

“We just don’t want to put the public at risk,” City Councilman Matthew Seely said. “We, more than anything, want to create a buffer zone between the shoreline and where people begin to anchor.”

Seely said the density of anchored boats near the shore has created a visibility issue.

“We’re just trying to prevent the inevitable tragedy,” Seely said. “If we create a no-anchor zone, people will be able to swim in there and wade in there.”

City Councilwoman Danielle Gehlert said a resident had contacted her out of concern that the city was going to impose restrictions on all boaters “based on a few bad apples.”

Seely said all boaters would be able to enter the area close to the shoreline, but just wouldn’t be allowed to anchor there. Not allowing the boats to anchor would improve the visibility of swimmers, he said.

“There’s no restrictions on the water,” Seely said. “You can go in and out (from the shore) on the water.”

Gehlert was also concerned about the cost of the buoys, as well as placing and removing them.

“I don’t think (all Shores) residents should pay (for that),” Gehlert said.

Seely said they would only need one buoy every 100 feet; he estimated the cost of buoys at $300 apiece.

“It wasn’t a big, significant cost,” Seely said.

In  addition, Seely said residents have offered to help pay for the buoys, and the city’s nonprofit arm, the Grosse Pointe Shores Improvement Foundation, might be able to make a contribution as well. As far as dropping off and removing the buoys, Seely said he and several of the lakefront property owners are boaters and could take care of that.

“We don’t know what the expense will be at this time,” Mayor Ted Kedzierski said of no-anchor zone signs and buoys.

If the DNR approves the no-anchor zone designation, Shores officials would like to implement those restrictions for the 2021 boating season. It wasn’t known at press time whether the city might be pursuing permanent implementation of a no-anchor zone along the shoreline in the future.

“We can see how it goes,” Seely said. “This is more of a trial phase.”