Hibl admits, City owns Lake Shamrock

March 10, 2018

By Pat Maurer

Clare City Manager Ken Hibl said he has sent a letter of apology to the property owners around Shamrock Lake, many of whom have insisted that the City, not the property owners should have to pay for the proposed dredging project that has been an item of controversy for the past several months.

At the first meeting in December The City Commission approved the necessity of the project after Tony Groves of Progressive Engineering gave a power point presentation on the buildup of silt in the lake and a Formal Feasibility Study on ways to address the problem that was completed last year.

Of three alternatives, the least expensive alternative called for mechanical dredging and trucking the material to a disposal site (a portion of the Clare Municipal Airport was suggested) would cost $1,241,250 or $12,400 per property owner. Over five years, the annual cost per property owner would be $2,692 while over a ten year period the annual cost would drop to $1,493.

At the second December meeting, Shamrock Lake Resident Joseph Valenti said he had enough signatures on a petition to stop the proposed dredging at Shamrock Lake.

“This is a public lake he said. It should not be the responsibility of the residents to pay for this. It should be a ballot proposal for the whole city.”

At a lake board meeting Hibl said he had made a strong public statement that the ownership of the lake bed had been returned to the lakefront property owners.

In the letter of apology Hibl said, “I was wrong and I apologize to you for my misstatement and for my mistake.”
He said the City attorney had completed a detailed review of the history of Lake Shamrock including “ownership of the dam; lake ownership; state and local laws pertaining to lake ownership; laws related to public projects on inland waterways and cost assessments for those projects; and any general information of importance or impact related to the lake.”

The letter continued, “Her research revealed that ownership of the dam and all flowage rights were transferred to the City of Clare by Consumers Energy in 1941. She was also able to determine that ownership of the lakebed and surrounding property was conveyed by the City to a development company in 1961, with the caveat that ownership would revert to the City should the property not be fully developed – that ownership reversion occurred in 1970 with no evidence found of a record of subsequent ownership changes since that date.”

At Monday’s meeting Hibl said, “That means we (the City) own the lakebed. That changes the game.”

In his report to the Commission Monday and in the letter, Hibl said the City Staff would now “play a far more active and greater role in providing recommendations to the City Commission and the Lake Board in respect to all decisions related to the lake – and in particular decisions pertaining to maintenance of the lake.”

An earlier survey of property owners by Dave Coker indicated that the majority of owners were in favor of the dredging project. Another survey by Joe Valenti showed that most owners objected to the project.

Hibl said, “The City has a long history of sharing costs with affected property owners for any major infrastructure and improvement projects in Clare. I expect the City will now likely continue that tradition with future lake improvement projects and decisions regarding those projects.”

He said Progressive Engineering has initiated the process to apply to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for a permit to dredge Lake Shamrock. “Until we know whether the MDEQ will approve a permit to dredge, there will be little, if any formal action taken by the Lake Board or the City Commission in respect to the dredging project.”

He told Shamrock Lake property owners in the letter that they would be notified about future Lake Board meetings or City Commission meeting in which a decision is scheduled to be made concerning the dredging proposal.

Other business at the Commission meeting Monday evening included:

*The approval of an Economic Development District liquor license for the Venu and Heart of Michigan Café.

*Approval of a waiver of penalties for property transfer affidavits.

*Reappointment of Denny Purkis, Carol Santini and Jeff Punches to the Board of Review.

*Approval of the return of 1/3 of the old downtown Consumers property donated to the City by North Ten LLC for the development of a Downtown Gateway, so it can be used for a display area for a new business that is leasing the old Consumer’s building. The 35 foot parcel will not affect the development of the Gatweay project, Hibl said.

Share This Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *