Tamaracks dance in the rain on Brooks Lake. Photo by Rob Karner
Striving to be the best is a challenge that never ends. And though we liken ongoing efforts to protect our Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed as among the country’s best, we’re also aware there’s always more we can and should be doing.
For instance, we’ve learned that some watersheds have found additional ways to augment existing zoning by leveraging an “overlay district” to further protect their water. Across the country including in northwest Michigan, overlay districts have been adopted from Vermont to the state of Washington. One example is on nearby Crystal Lake in Benzie County, where the overlay district has been in effect for over 25 years.
In the spirit of preserving property rights and property values in the Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed, the argument could easily shift to the close connection between property values and water quality. Without high water quality, property values would decline.
In addition to education about how each resident in our watershed can protect our surface and ground water, supplemental zoning can work together with existing zoning to guide future development and protect our water.
A 16-member Watershed Protection Task Force with representatives from all four townships in our watershed is proposing supplemental zoning to protect the future of our water. They strongly believe that the “Overlay District” proposal strikes a balance between effective enforceable water protection without being an over reach on personal property rights.
We hope you will agree and if you feel compelled, contact your township and let them know you support the Overlay District approach to protect your property value and further preserve and protect our water.
A proposed change to an existing state statute regulating the operation of sand and gravel mining operations is being unanimously opposed by the Glen Lake Association.
The change, Senate Bill 431, would restrict regulation by local units of government in the decision-making process for these operations. This bill has raised concerns about water contamination within the watershed.
Edward Lanphier, president of the GLA, noted that sand and gravel sites are by nature large and involve significant disturbance of natural resources.
“Glen Lake is a groundwater-fed lake and we depend on groundwater for our drinking water. And though aware of the importance of county sand and gravel pits to our economy, preempting local oversight of these operations is not in our community’s best interest,” he said.
Senate Bill 431 would limit the discretion of local units of government as it relates to aggregate mining operations and its negative impact on water quality due to runoff and erosion issues; air quality concerns and the remediation of sand and gravel mining sites; and the amount of water usage required during the mining process. Other concerns by opponents to the legislation include hours of operation, the location of haul routes, noise, dust control, traffic safety, and the impact of mining activity on adjacent land uses and property values. All these issues need to be evaluated locally to ensure sand and gravel mining facilities can be operated efficiently, but with minimal disruption to the local community.
The GLA has written a letter of objection to the Senate committee and legislators considering this statute change and is joined by numerous other leading state and civic groups in opposing its passage. They include The Leelanau Conservancy, Sierra Club of Michigan, The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, and Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, to name a few.