Beachgoers raise concerns over large rocks placed along lakeshore’s path

Posted at 10:24 PM, Jul 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 22:24:42-04

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. -- Walking along the beach is supposed to be relaxing. But some say it's gotten stressful with rising water levels and private property owners placing rocks in places that they say make their walks more dangerous.

State law allows beach-goers to walk at the high water line when walking along private property.

Chris Klok and her mother, Connie, like walking along Lake Michigan's shoreline. But a stroll in part of South Haven brings them to a virtual impasse.

"That was not there," Connie Klok pointed.

Large rocks surround the base of a steel seawall behind a subdivision. The Kloks are concerned about people having to walk in high, waving water in order to continue heading down the beach. Right now, a ladder belonging to another property owner is the only way up onto the seawall. On the other side, a sign warns against rock climbing.

"I couldn't swim around it personally, and I can't climb on their rocks," Klok said.

"So now they've kind of pinned me in. I don't know how else to get around it, and I just do not understand how they were allowed to do that," she added.

FOX 17 spoke with the subdivision's property manager who said the wall and the rocks are there to protect the land from further erosion and that the property owner got the proper permits from Allegan County, the Department of Environmental Quality, and the Army Corp of Engineers for the project.

DEQ environmental engineer John Bayha told FOX 17 he granted the permit and said the water has risen significantly since the permit was issued. He reiterated the land owner's erosion concerns. Bayha said he's gotten lots of complaints because of the rocks and the wall but added that it's private property and that the state has no authority after a certain point.

Klok said, "It's totally changing the flow of the water also. But I definitely can't walk in front of it safely, and nobody else can either."

The subdivision's property manager said it's unclear if any path will be made for the public to easily navigate that area and isn't sure what liability that may bring since it is private property.