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Leelanau County Residents Push Back Against Proposed Settlement


— June 24, 2021

A lawsuit settlement concerning beach access and property rights in Leelanau county is being reconsidered.


A lawsuit settlement is being reconsidered in Leland Township on the Leelanau peninsula in Michigan after residents voiced concerns over the settlement details. 

The settlement in question stems from a lawsuit between two homeowners along the Lake Michigan coast in Leelanau county. Between the two homes is “public beach access at the end of Reynolds Street.” According to Leelanau County Road Commission Manager Brendan Mullane, “The original lawsuit is over this area at the end of Reynolds Street that goes down to the beach and there’s a dispute over whose property that is.”

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The Leland Township Supervisor, Sue Och, said “township records show the area has always been a public beach.” She added:

“Leland Township’s goal is to maintain this as a public beach the way it has been for the last 80 years…The question is what is the best way to accomplish this goal.”

A few months ago, Och signed a settlement agreement that would keep public access to the beach in place. However, that was “rescinded after commissioners heard from residents and took a closer look at the document.” Och said:

“Last night, the board voted in a 3 to 2 vote to resend my authorization to sign the settlement agreement until we get a chance to sit down with the road commission and fix some of the things that are wrong with the document.”

Why are residents so upset about the settlement, though? Well, apparently the settlement comes with a list of restrictions that would impact “parking along Reynolds Street and dredging spoil restrictions.” When commenting on the concerns from local residents, Och said:

“We heard from the public who has a very real fear that stopping the practice of putting dredging spoils on the beach to continually nourish the beach and replace what has washed away into our harbor, there would be very little beach to speak of…The public might win the legal battle but lose the battle with the elements.”

Mullane chimed in and said, “another option would be marking the piece of land in question as part of Reynolds Street.” He said:

“The risk with doing that is potentially losing it as a beach and it could only be used to walk down to the water, instead of to hang out and sunbathe and do beach things.”

From here, the Leelanau County Road Commission and Leland Township board will have to meet and discuss what changes and corrections will be made to the settlement before signing off on a final copy of the agreement for the plaintiffs.

Sources:

Residents’ concerns over beach lawsuit puts a pause on settlement agreement

Battle Over South Beach Not Over With Leland Township Rescinding Approval Of Settlement

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