A week after an alleged unauthorized drawbridge was installed from Whitehead Drive to Turtle Island on Lobdell Lake, a Gofundme page was created by local residents to help with “legal efforts” to remove the structure.
The controversial drawbridge was not approved by Argentine Township officials or state officials with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) before it was installed Monday, July 8. Christopher Clampitt, environmental quality analyst at EGLE, confirmed that the owner of the drawbridge, Brett DeGayner, did not apply for a permit.
This drawbridge replaced an older, wooden bridge that allowed easier passage for boats through the channel.
Photos posted on nextdoor.com, a neighborhood watch website, shows the structure in action with a cable pulling up the drawbridge to let a pontoon through. Boats are forced to go through weeds and other wetlands when taking this route.
DeGayner uses the property on Turtle Island as a VRBO, which stands for vacation rentals by owners. He has not responded to requests for comment.
On July 8, Argentine Township officials gave DeGayner a stop work order but he had the structure put in anyway.
The Gofundme is called “Remove the Drawbridge of Lobdell Lake.” As of Tuesday, July 16, $470 was raised out of an $8,000 goal.
Denise Marks, founder of Linden Pay It Forward, created the Gofundme and said on the page that she was contacted by lakefront residents to design a sign to protest the drawbridge.
“As a lakefront resident of Whitehead Drive, many of my neighbors have been adversely affected by this structure,” she wrote, calling the structure a “monstrosity.”
The next Argentine Township meeting is Monday, July 29 at 7 p.m. The next Lobdell Bennett Lake Association meeting is July 31 at p.m. at 7 p.m. at the Argentine Township Hall. Marks hopes these meetings will be informative and will address the issues and concerns.
Concerns include the safety and maintenance of the bridge, the lack of permits, “violation of wetlands,” water flow, and the effects on property values.
Signs can be bought for $4. They contain the number for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Kelly Rossman-McKinney, communications director for Nessel, said they have received calls and emails, and their office is aware of the situation.
She said it is “possible” the Department of Attorney General could become involved.
“The function of the Department of Attorney General is to provide legal advice and representation to EGLE and other state government agencies. The Department of Attorney General has been in communication with EGLE about this situation, and will provide EGLE with any necessary legal assistance,” she said.
They are monitoring the situation. If it proceeds as a criminal prosecution, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton would work in conjunction with EGLE’s Environmental Crimes Investigation Section. If it’s a civil suit, it is likely the Department of Attorney General would represent EGLE, Rossman-McKinney said.
The enforcement unit of the Water Resources Division at EGLE is currently investigating the situation.