Because of a 1987 license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for French Landing Dam, Van Buren Township doesn’t have the authority to approve a marina project on Belleville Lake, as requested by BYC.
On Nov. 19, 2009 the private club, BYC, applied to the township for permission to construct docks on Belleville Lake to go along with a planned club house on North Liberty Street in the City of Belleville, yet to be approved or constructed.
On March 23, Terry Carroll, interim director of VBT Planning and Economic Development, sent a letter to BYC Commodore Scott Jones detailing the denial. Carroll said BYC may appeal to FERC.
The 24-page license from FERC for the French Landing Hydro Water Power Project prohibits approval of such a project on page 9. The agreement is between VBT, FERC, and Adirondack Hydro Development Corporation.
Carroll said Jones had asked him to research how other commercial docks could be located on Belleville Lake if the FERC license contains this prohibition.
“I have been told that they were grandfathered as being in place when the FERC license was issued,” Carroll wrote.
Carroll said although the dam is at the far eastern end of the lake, an impoundment of the Huron River, the hydro-power project area includes the whole lake.
As backup documentation, Carroll also sent a copy of a review letter of the request completed by planning consultant McKenna Associates, dated March 21, 2011.
The BYC request is described in the Nov. 19 letter as: “In summary, our plan is to construct docks for use by our members and guests to enable them to dock their boats, per the attached plan. In doing so, we believe the BYC will enhance our community and bring needed revenue to the down town and township businesses.
“The construction of our BYC docks prior to the start of construction of our club house will reduce our cost of the club house construction.
“As you will see from our drawings, we will construct and maintain a high quality, aesthetically pleasing dock site,” the letter reads.
Plans call for the docks to extend 145’ from the shore into the lake on the east side, plus 105’ into the lake from the shore on the west side for 45 boat slips. The property width is 140’ at the street and 145’ at the lake.
Article 412 (b) of the license outlines the types of use and occupancy of project lands and waters for which the licensee (VBT) may grant permission without prior approval from FERC:
(1) landscape plantings; (2) non-commercial piers, landings, boat docks, or similar structures and facilities that can accommodate no more than 10 watercraft at a time and where said facility is intended to serve single-family type dwellings; and (3) embankments, bulkheads, retaining walls, or similar structures for erosion control to protect the existing shoreline.
Also, “to the extent feasible and desirable to protect and enhance the project’s scenic, recreational, and other environmental values, the licensee shall require multiple use and occupancy of facilities for access to project lands or waters…”
The BYC, originally named the Belleville Yacht Club, was established on July 4, 2009 by Jones, Steve Davenport, John Hughes, Dave Marvin, and Ted Mull.
It turned out that Marash (Mike) Nuculaj of Johnny’s Grill in Belleville has the legal rights to the “Belleville Yacht Club” name, so the group calls itself BYC.