Statement by the LLLA to the Centerville Township Planning Commission Regarding Proposed Expansion of Northgate Leelanau Pines

Statement by the Lake Leelanau Lake Association
Read to Centerville Township Planning Commission
Regarding Proposed Expansion of Northgate Leelanau Pines

August 29, 2022

We are here today as board members of the Lake Leelanau Lake Association (LLLA) and as representatives of the nearly 500 households in Leelanau County who are Association members. We have been dedicated to protecting and enhancing the quality and beauty of Lake Leelanau for more than 42 years.

The proposed expansion at Northgate Leelanau Pines is of great concern to our board and our members due to the expansion’s potential adverse effects on Lake Leelanau’s fragile ecosystem. We believe strongly that the Township’s current Master Plan, which was developed with substantial participation by the citizens of Centerville Township and adopted by this Commission, should guide the Planning Commission’s evaluation of this proposed project. We have identified five areas of concern we would like to see addressed which relate to the protection of surface water, groundwater, habitat, and enjoyment of the resource. If future pre-construction analyses suggest that there will be adverse consequences from this project to these areas, the Lake Association will oppose the proposed expansion.

Areas of concern:

1. Increased Boat Traffic: The doubled expansion of campsites from 170 to 455 will almost certainly result in a significant increase in the number of boats on the lake. The lake can only handle so many boats without adversely affecting the ecosystem, recreation, and boater safety. Boats disturb the sensitive shallow water habitat where fish spawn and invertebrates live. Leaking gas and oil and emissions from boats add to lake pollution. Finally, too many boats are a detriment to safety and create excessive noise that detracts from the enjoyment of this beautiful lake. We ask that a Lake Carrying Capacity Study be performed to assure that the additional boat traffic will not degrade the lake ecosystem or jeopardize boater safety or riparian enjoyment of the lake.

2. Invasive Species: Our Association is currently spending several hundred thousand dollars annually to combat the threat aquatic invasive species present to our lake. Increased boat traffic will significantly increase the risk of introduction and re-introduction of invasive species like Eurasian watermilfoil, which has severely compromised the beauty and recreational use of many lakes in Michigan specifically and across North America. We recommend that any Special Use Permit that may be granted require that every boat launched from the park be washed with a high-pressure water spray system staffed by trained personnel.

3. Development on the Shoreline: The shoreline itself is a precious ecosystem that must be protected. The development of pools,
stores, pavilions and parking on the beautiful shoreline of Lake Leelanau and along Rice Creek would be detrimental to the water quality and habitat of Lake Leelanau. These facilities add significant amounts of impervious surfaces which will carry sediment and nutrients into the lake when it rains. At a minimum, the 40’ setback requirement should be honored and the existing shoreline should be restored to natural conditions, including removal of the seawall, to minimize the impact of the large number of people on the property. This recommendation is consistent with EGLE’s best management practices, as contained in their pre-application letter sent by EGLE on July 28, 2022.

4. Impacts of Nutrients from the Sewage Lagoon: The proposed plan does not address the consequences of the increased usage of the sewage lagoon to groundwater and surface water. There is no mention of upgrading the lagoon even though the usage will increase substantially. Hydrological studies of the potential impact of the expansion must be performed.

5. Impacts to wetlands: The property includes an endangered forested wetland which is of tremendous importance in the filtration and maintenance of the high quality of the water in Lake Leelanau’s ecosystem. The construction of hiking trails will degrade the wetland, which must be avoided. We ask that the 2014 Centerville Master Plan guide the Commission in its assessment of the proposed expansion plan. The document describes both groundwater and surface water as vital resources that are highly valued by the residents of the township and therefore need protection. The plan also states that the residents want to maintain the peaceful rural character and scenic beauty of the township. From the Association’s perspective, the current plans for the proposed expansion of Northgate Leelanau Pines appear to be inconsistent with the goals outlined in the Master Plan.

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