Sitting in a nearly 20-foot-long Bayliner Capri  “runabout” parked behind his home, Bert Green is among those raising concerns about a new boat ordinance.

Sitting in a nearly 20-foot-long Bayliner Capri “runabout” parked behind his home, Bert Green is among those raising concerns about a new boat ordinance.

Photo by Brandy Baker


New boat storage rules upset some boat owners

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 29, 2019

 A boat motors around Pine Lake in West Bloomfield Township Aug. 24. Some residents of the Pine Lake Estates subdivision are upset over a recent change in the boat storage ordinance.

A boat motors around Pine Lake in West Bloomfield Township Aug. 24. Some residents of the Pine Lake Estates subdivision are upset over a recent change in the boat storage ordinance.

Photo by Brandy Baker

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Some boat owners in the township are crying foul after learning of an ordinance change that bars them from storing boats in their driveways unless they have a lakefront home or unless more than half of their subdivision petitions for a waiver.

“The Code Enforcement Department has received complaints from residents in non-lake areas who are chagrined by the parking of a boat or boats in a neighbor’s driveway,” said Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan. “In such an instance, the township does not issue a ticket requiring a court appearance, but instead provides the resident with an opportunity to remove the boat.”

But some residents don’t understand why this change — studied by the Planning Commission and the township board in April, and approved shortly thereafter — was adopted in the first place.

Bert Green, a resident of Pine Lake Estates, moved to his colonial-style home at the corner of Normanwood Drive and Aberdeen Court in 2010. He owns a 2001 Bayliner, 19.5 feet long.

“We specifically purchased our home, in part, because it came with lifetime deeded boat access at our private beach, one of only 54 homes in our subdivision, which has 280 homes total,” Green said. “We love to cruise, water-ski, take the kids tubing, park at the sandbar, take the dogs out, and especially enjoy early mornings and sunsets.”

He has historically stored his boat in his driveway or backyard. It doesn’t fit in his garage.

“I have never, ever heard from anyone in a negative way about my boat,” Green said. “Many of my neighbors also store their boats in their driveways and yards during boating season. My boat is always covered, and the wheels are chocked. My boat is in pristine condition, inside and out. My boat cover is new this year and is appropriate for the area. It’s neutral, tan — certainly not unappealing or ugly or dirty.”

And yet, Green recently found himself told by a code enforcement officer that he would no longer be able to store his boat out in the open at his property. He said he was told that the township is not aggressively enforcing the ordinance this season, although that could change next year.

Green said he was blindsided by the change, noting that while the township board examined it in televised public meetings, there was no input solicited from boat owners on the matter.

“I dispute the way West Bloomfield Township handled this change,” Green said. “It was basically done under wraps without notification or advance notice, without any input from residents. This is a huge change that will affect, my guess, over 1,000 people in the township. It’s terrible and devalues my home and my deeded boat access. It’s a pain in the (butt). It’s stupid, and we intend to fight it. Again, there was no notice, no input and no chance to fight it before it became law.”

Kaplan said that the agendas for township meetings are available on the township’s website four days before each meeting, and that the ordinance in question was discussed at two meetings of the Planning Commission and two meetings of the township board, all of which were broadcast and are available through Civic Center TV.

He also pointed out that the township is not going out of its way to police boat owners.

“The township has not proactively dispatched code officers to look for boats parked illegally in driveways. The township is a complaint-driven entity that responds to complaints lodged by residents and businesses,” Kaplan said. “The township board wants its residents to enjoy living in West Bloomfield with limited overseeing. The board recognizes that whenever it enacts or declines to enact an ordinance regarding the use of property, such as the boat parking issue, not all residents will be in favor of the decision.”

Michael Gilpin is a boat owner and a neighbor of Green’s. Gilpin has been storing boats in his driveway for 22 years.

“I bought my house knowing I had private lake access, and there are only 54 of us out of 280 homes that have access from Pine Lake Estates,” Gilpin said. “This new ordinance has now devalued my home by more than $15,000 by not allowing summer storage in our driveway.

“Come on, township!” he continued. “With all the lakes around us and a public access on Orchard Lake, what are they thinking?”

Green said that the boat owners in his subdivision have already begun the “expensive and laborious” process of petitioning for a waiver, for which he will be going door to door to get signatures. But what he really wants is for the law to revert back to how it was before.

“I would like to have them reverse the ordinance and allow normal boat storage during the boating season,” Green said, “just like it has been for decades.”

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