The Army Corps permit

Because Lake Charlevoix is connected to Lake Michigan, it is considered “Waters of the United States.” That is why the Army Corps has jurisdiction over any project in Lake Charlevoix that involves dredging in the lake and structures below the Ordinary High Water Mark (as well as wetlands adjacent to them). 

In July 2020, the Laws submitted a “joint permit” to the State of Michigan EGLE and Army Corps of Engineers. The EGLE permit was granted in December 2020. But the Army Corps took its time. It had many permits to process due to Great Lakes high water levels, and it had some questions for the Laws based on the public comments it received from Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians (see letters below).

 By the time we found out in July 2021 about the Laws’ project and Hayes Township officials’ approvals in 2019 and 2020, the only remaining permission–we thought–was the Army Corps’. As we soon figured out, Hayes Township’s two approvals–of boat basin/channel in 2019 and of boathouse in 2020–had both expired, as the Zoning Ordinance specified.

We organized neighbors to write to the Army Corps, and many did, opposing the project on environmental grounds.

In August, we learned through Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council that the Laws had modified their plans to the Army Corps. The plans involved substituting some of the sea walls (of the channel and parts of the basin) but of course retaining the giant walls under the boathouse structure, with sloped slides. This would necessitate removing an even wider swath of Shoreland Protection Strip. Instead of a 30-foot wide channel, the Laws wanted to make it 43-feet wide. And, they recalculated the amount of uplands they would excavate: now they said it would be 14,888 cubic yards, digging down from the upland 32 feet to create the boat basin under the boathouse. 

In late 2021, the Laws “language modified” their plans again, making the ludicrous claim that their second story event area would be used for “STORAGE” (a and in an email to the Corps, said it would be for their kayak and canoes. No other change was made to the building’s design. The kitchen, public restrooms, fireplace, elevator, and closets for tables and chairs and coats were all still there. 

The tribe and watershed council were permitted to respond to the modified plans, which both did.

Below is the so-called Public Notice the Corps issued in 2020. As you can see, the second story of the boathouse with the dining and event facility plans were not a part of the notice, and nothing in the narrative mentioned it. 

No public hearing was held. 

An historic “Section 106” review was conducted to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act, which also delayed their review. But it was Lake Charlevoix residents writing to oppose the project that also made the Corps take their time reviewing comments.

On June 9, 2022, the Army Corps issued a final permit to the Laws to build the project. However, the permit was conditional upon a “valid” permit by EGLE and the Township. The Laws were encouraged to contact both. SEE permit and cover letter posted below.

Public Notice

Tip of Mitt letter

LTBB letter

The Corps' permit issued June 9, 2022

The "STORAGE" instead of Event Area fake-out