Torch Lake Protection Alliance Files Lawsuit to Regulate Large Sandbar Parties

A local group of fed-up homeowners filed a lawsuit to stop big parties on the Torch Lake Sandbar.

The Torch Lake Protection Alliance group filed the lawsuit naming Beatbox Beverages, LLC,, LLC, and Brooks Ehlert aka DJ Fade as the defendants.

The group feels the Sandbar Bash that happens over the Fourth of July on Torch Lake has gotten out of control.

9&10’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist John Harrington have more details on the lawsuit and what it aims to accomplish.

“They’re suing the right people because that DJ, for his own personal ego, comes here and throws a party. He leaves and then we’re left with the aftermath,” says Gordon Schafer.

The waters on Torch Lake are peaceful now, but one local group is already concerned about this summer could bring.

“Torch Lake Protection Alliance is not against family recreation on the sandbar, or people who recreate on the sandbar in a lawful and peaceful manner,” says attorney Karen Ferguson.

Last summer a Facebook event promoted a sandbar party over Fourth of July weekend.

The result… more than 10,000 people on the sandbar.

“Yes it’s subject to the public trust which is the right of the public to boat, swim and fish on Torch Lake,” Ferguson says. “But it’s not a right to hold a big huge party bash with DJ’s, and emcees and distributing alcoholic beverages in a residential area.”

Its public access sites that allow tens of thousands of people to come and enjoy Torch Lake during the summer, but the Torch Lake Protection Alliance feels that a number of these regulations were violated over the Fourth of July.

“The Michigan Liquor Commission Code prohibits the distribution of free alcohol, and one of the photos in the complaint shows Beatbox Beverages being distributed from a boat. That violates the public nuisance act which does not allow the distribution of alcohol beverages from a boat,” says Ferguson. 

The complaint also states several other violations.

Such as, the defendants violated the Michigan Environmental Protection Act by not providing trash cans, recycling bins, or port-a-potties for trash and human waste, resulting in it polluting the lake and homeowners properties. 

It also states they are in violation of the Inland Lakes and Streams Act because they did not receive a permit from the DEQ for placing structures (the dancing platform, volleyball nets, drinking tables, and shade canopies) on the bottomlands of an inland lake.

Some businesses want to make sure the lawsuit doesn’t stop people from coming and enjoying the lake.

“I’m all for public access. The Dockside contributes to the fireworks, parks. Public access all the way. This lawsuit doesn’t seem to be limiting public access, only those three people. So I’m in favor of it,” says Gordon Schafer, Dockside owner.

Ferguson says they are working on preparing a motion for a preliminary injunction, and then will ask the court for a hearing date.

The case has been assigned to Judge Mertz.