UPDATE posted 11/9/16
BLUE LAKE TWP., MI — To the relief of those in attendance, the Blue Lake Township Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night against an application for a residential-area firearms academy.
While the commission, which acts as an advisory board to township trustees, does not have power to nix the application, they recommended Wednesday that trustees do not move forward with the application.
SPECIAL NOTICE posted 11/2/16
THE OOEC OPPOSES ANY ZONING CHANGE THAT WOULD ALLOW THE RFI ACADEMY TO BE BUILT IN BLUE LAKE TOWNSHIP
The Owasippe Outdoor Education Center (OOEC) is a not-for-profit corporation incorporated in the State of Michigan. Our mission is to consult, promote and help manage the conservation-minded offseason program and recreational use of Owasippe. Our board is 100% volunteer run. We are landowners in Blue Lake Township, and two of our Board Members are Township residents.
Owasippe Scout Reservation, located in Blue Lake Township, is a 105-year-old, approximately 5,000-acre facility dedicated to the outdoor education of America’s and Michigan’s youth. Owasippe offers approximately 75 miles of trails that meander through oak savannahs, towering hills, marshy fields, and lush forests. With a little patience and an alert eye, hikers may see any one of the 19 rare or endangered species that call Owasippe home.
The OOEC opposes the proposed change in zoning of the property at 9446 Hyde Park Road, Whitehall, Michigan. The proposed use as a firearms training academy is not the highest and best use of the property, particularly in a township that boasts being “West Michigan’s Most Beautiful Setting.” We believe that the proposed use of the property is incompatible with the preservation of the natural habitat and safe conduct of youth camping that is imperative to all the camps in the area, including Owasippe Scout Reservation.
The OOEC is against this proposed land use because it includes several major negative impacts on the environment and the community:
- Impact on the soil and water table from lead leaching into the ground
- Deforestation to develop the land for this high-impact use
- Sound impact that would unavoidably change the habitat of the rare and endangered species that call Owasippe and all of Blue Lake Township home, including nesting bald eagles. Owasippe also runs its horse program approximately one mile from the proposed site. The noise pollution generated would potentially spook the horses with inexperienced riders aboard and creates a dangerous situation for the campers and staff.
- Paramilitary armed strangers within close proximity to a youth camp program. This concern is further intensified if the RFI range intends to expand to the surrounding Manistee National Forest, where boundaries aren’t clear.
We believe that the negative environmental impact and damage of such use is incalculable, irreversible, and completely contrary to our wishes and what we believe the wishes of the citizens of Blue Lake Township to be.
We sincerely hope the Blue Lake Township Planning Commission will refuse any zoning change request that would allow the RFI facility to be built in Blue Lake Township.