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Residents question conservation easement enforcement at Adelaide Pointe

Adelaide Pointe

A group of concerned Muskegon citizens wants to know who’s in charge of enforcing an easement along the Muskegon Lake shoreline. Their focus is on a newly opened marina.

On May 1st, Adelaide Pointe opened to the public on Muskegon Lake. It’s the first new marina to open in the state of Michigan in nearly 30 years.

However, a group of citizens expressed concern over aspects of the development, including a portion of wetland dredged by Adelaide Pointe’s developers, as well as the location of docks installed within the marina. They want to know why the Muskegon Conservation District, or MCD, isn’t enforcing a conservation easement on the property.

Melanie Knapp is the MCD’s Executive Director.

“It’s not that we didn’t enforce the easement, it’s that these people did not like our interpretation and had a different view.”

According to documents from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE, the dredging issue falls under their jurisdiction.

Ryan Leestma, Owner and Founder of Adelaide Pointe, says the wetland dredging was a mistake by developers and reported to EGLE. In a statement to WGVU, EGLE Communications Manager Hugh McDiarmid Jr. said there’s an active investigation and settlement discussion underway with Adelaide Pointe to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Leestma says he’s been restoring the wetland on his own dime.

As for the location of the docks, according to Knapp, the easement only covers the land, not the waterway in which the docks sit.

Leestma says those who have a problem with the dock location are mistaken about what the easement covers.

“They’re trying to say that, ‘Well, all the docks that are outside of the easement are regulated by the easement.’ You can’t regulate something or restrict something that’s outside of an easement.”

John Allen is one of the residents concerned with what he sees as the MCD’s lack of enforcement. 

“They said that they approved the change in the buffer distance from the docks to the shoreline, so if they were able to do that, that seems like it’s entirely within their jurisdiction to uphold the rest of the conservation easements.”

Still, Knapp says the MCD has worked with Leestma to ensure that the environment is preserved around Adelaide Pointe and that the easement is enforced.

“There’s never been a point in time that I feel like anything has been done secondhand or not with the best of intentions to improve the quality of the land that falls within the easement."

Dave joined WGVU Public Media in November of 2023 after eighteen years as a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Emmy-nominated photojournalist and editor at Grand Rapids' WOOD TV8 and three years at WEYI TV25 in Flint, Michigan. As a General Assignment Reporter, Dave covers daily news and community events all over West Michigan.
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