2017-12-07 / News

Barge Leads to Les Cheneaux Planning Discussion

By Erich T. Doerr

The Clark Township Planning Commission decided against acting on complaints about a floating boathouse for the time being, revisited the issue of short-term home rentals, and discussed amendments to ordinances governing Hessel Shore Strip District, food vendor carts, and boathouse specifications during its November 14 meeting.

Commission member Jim Keighley reported the boathouse on a barge has drawn complaints of late and said he wanted to make sure the commission didn’t need to act on them. He said the owner plans to electrify the vessel and add a motor to it.

Commission discussion then focused on determining if a floating boathouse is a structure, which falls under their jurisdiction, or a vessel, which does not. Commission Chair Brad Koster said township ordinances extend into the water on upland properties, but the boathouse is outside its jurisdiction.

Commissioner Bob Dunn said while floating boathouses usually don’t complement properties near where they’re docked, he didn’t see it as an issue requiring township attention right now. He said township action might be warranted if floating boathouses become a trend and owners use them to avoid paying property tax. Mr. Dunn cited Key West, Florida, as an example of a place where this became an issue because of now-defunct Houseboat Row.

Commissioner LeRoy Pieri said that, right now, the floating boathouse is just a one-of-a-kind novelty.

Mr. Koster observed that boathouses have always been a part of the Les Cheneaux Islands area and the local communities and waterways are well suited to them.

Commission members noted that policies related to boathouses focus on their use for boat storage and not for other purposes.

Also at the meeting, the commission noted there’s a public hearing Tuesday, December 12, at 6:30 p.m. on the proposed ordinance amendments, which have been sent to township attorney Tom Evashevski for review. Once the commission approves them, the township will send them to the Mackinac County Planning Commission for another review and final approval.

Mr. Koster and Township Supervisor Mark Clymer recently discussed short-term rentals, but the township has delayed action while state lawmakers consider a law that would govern them. Provisions under consideration in Michigan House and Senate committees could limit the authority of municipalities to regulate companies, such as Airbnb, which market short-term lodging that includes rental of private homes and apartments.

Mr. Koster said he prefers that local municipalities be allowed to create their own short-term rental ordinances, tailoring them so they accurately reflect local needs.

Commissioner Steve Kozma reported that construction is underway at Hessel’s Albert J. Lindberg Airport in the industrial park. Donald Moore is building an educational facility and plans to have a hangar next year for a business that partly will be involved in aircraft maintenance.

“It’s cool to see something happening there,” Mr. Koster responded.

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