The residents in May were rebuffed in their attempt to keep a dock and fire pit on a beach they share and maintain because it has been deemed to be a township park. It is against the law to appropriate public property for private use.
Township officials have insisted their research shows the area on the south side of Green Lake is regarded as a township park, therefore the dock must go.
Green Lake residents hold that the area has been used as a communal area for about a dozen families for more than 50 years and they take good care of it. Some of the residents accused Supervisor Steve Deer of not applying the rule of law fairly and they claimed there is no evidence the beach property is a township park.
Deer said the matter came to a head when someone issued a complaint about making the park into an area that looked too much like private property, particularly with use of a dock.
“Who is the complainant?” asked Diane Grimes. “We want to know who it is so we can begin to make things right… We thought we had shared beach access. I feel like you are singling us out.
“I don’t understand why the dock has to be taken out just because of one complaint. It’s been there for 65 years.”
She went on, “We’ve maintained that beach and there’s never been any problems.”
Beth Sexton asserted, “According to Allegan County, there are no public parks in Leighton Township. There is no proof there is a public park there and there is no parking lot or restrooms.”
But Township Planner Mark Sisson pointed out that, “Land between the water’s edge and property lines has been deeded as a public park with lake access.”
Deer said he checked with county officials, the township attorney and the local zoning administrator to find that the parcel was public property.
Some residents insisted that previous supervisors Spencer Moore and Dar VanderArk permitted the dock. They also suggested that parks exist elsewhere on the lake without people being penalized for having docks.
“If you see that people are putting in docks on township property, you’d better let me know,” Deer told the audience. He added that he understood the frustrations of the residents, but the law was clear on use of public land.
Some residents suggested that they would put the dock in and not let it be taken down until the township proves conclusively that the land is a township park.
Deer said that if the dock is installed illegally, he very well could contact Professional Code Inspections for possible issuance of tickets.