Proposed Marina In Leelanau County Raises Concerns For The Watershed Center

A proposed marina in Leelanau County is raising concerns for the Watershed Center.

Tuesday night, the Elmwood Township Planning Commission gave preliminary approval for a new marina.

It’s part of a $20 million project from West Shore Hotel and Marina.

The marina would go across the street from the hotel and provide 28 more boat slips for boats between 50 and 70 feet.

That hotel was approved last month and will have more than 100 luxury suites.

They hope to have both up and running by next year.

9&10’s Whitney Amann has continuing coverage on the project — and concerns over the marina.

“This is the first of many steps,” said Ron Walters, managing member of West Shore Partners.

West Shore Partners presented information to the Elmwood Township Planning Commissioners for a new marina on M-22. It’s a project Walters had approved years ago.

“Obviously the economic downturn in 2008 was the driving factor of not doing it at that time but now with the economy the way it is, we’d like to proceed with building a marina,” said Walters.

The marina is part of the same project that was approved last month for a new hotel. The hotel will be on the west side of M-22 where the Dockside Plaza used to be with the marina across the street.

“Boat owners love it,” said Walters. “I’ve had numerous calls of people wanting to reserve their place in line even though we haven’t been approved yet; it’s very well received by the boating community.”

However, there are some concerns that were raised at the meeting.

“Our concerns are with hardening a shoreline with sheet piling and dredging a marina. We really want to encourage natural shorelines that retain some of those natural ecological features,” said Heather Smith, Grand Traverse Baykeeper for the Watershed Center. “Also concerned about any sort of contamination that might be on site; dredging contaminated sediments requires careful review and that’s something that we’re certainly watching closely.”

But West Shore said using sheet piling is the best way to construct their marina.

“There is a lot of sheet piling especially in southern Elmwood Township, we have such a fragmented shoreline in that area that I think it’s really important we keep some natural features and this would be a great spot to have some of that natural shoreline even built into the marina,” said Smith.

Planning commissioners gave preliminary approval for the project Tuesday and the developers will present more information at a later meeting. 

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