Residents want permission to use beach area

The Lake Michigan beach at the end of New Holland Street. (June 24, 2014)

PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A dispute is brewing in Ottawa County, where there’s debate about whether the public should be allowed to use a small stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline.

The 66-foot wide parcel in question is near where New Holland Street dead-ends into Lakeshore Drive. It’s split down the center between Park and Port Sheldon townships.

Both townships agree that the area is not a public beach, but rather what’s called an unimproved public right of way. The Ottawa County Road Commission has an easement to privately-owned property.

For years, people have been able to use the area to sunbathe or picnic.

Now, Park Township says it can only be used for getting to the water to swim, walk or fish — not hang out in the sand. Port Sheldon Township officials say they will not discourage people from enjoying the area, as long as there is no alcohol, fires, pets or camping.

Some area residents say they do not want to lose their beach.

“We want to raise public awareness that this is going on and then propose to the townships that they write whatever rules they want to write, but that this can still be used as the historical beach that it has been used for for years,” neighbor Dan Sheerhorn said.

The Sheerhorn family has started an online petition and plans to present their case at the next Park Township Board meeting on July 10.

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