Controversy In East Grand Rapids Over Reeds and Fisk Lake

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EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (April 24, 2014) — An ordinance in the city of East Grand Rapids is back in the spotlight.

The Shoreline Buffer Ordinance was already taken off the table once by the city commission because of concern voiced by residents around Reeds Lake and Fisk Lake. The commission first considered the ordinance in November, but pulled it and formed a committee to review those concerns.

East Grand Rapids Mayor Amna Seibold says the city is trying to look at what would be best as far as setbacks, aesthetics, and health of the lakes to make sure storm water can adequately drain. Part of the ordinance would change the city’s current building setback from three feet to 25 feet from the shoreline.

Seilbold says the ordinance does not apply to existing buildings near the shoreline nor those who don’t have a building within 50 feet. It affects property if a new building is being constructed within 50 feet of the water. Its also requires any deck or patio to be 15 feet back from the shoreline. Plus, a five foot wide vegetative strip needs to be maintained along 75 percent of the lake frontage.

The purpose of the restrictions, says Seilbold, is to assure storm runoff is filtered before it goes into the lake.

But those who live on the lake say the issue goes deeper than that. Meetings have even been held among residents, including a recent one at the Grand Rapids Yacht Club. Many residents believe the ordinance isn’t necessary.

Jon Welch says there is no scientific research to support the proposal.

“There’s no need to limit people as to what they do with landscaping,” said Katie Karczewski, who lives on Reeds Lake. “People who live on the lake are protective of the landscaping, they appreciate the fact they live on the lake,”

There is a work session being held by the city on Monday, April 28, to get more input from residents. The newly revised ordinance will officially be introduced on May 5.


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