Columbia Township Planning Commission will hear a request to change zoning from agriculture to residential suburban for property located in Clark Lake’s north shore area.  The property is owned by Hitt Farm Incorporated, and is located north of North Shore, and south of North Lake.  Although the same parcel continues north of North Lake, owner Rick Hitt is asking to change only the section closest to the lake.

Rick Hitt also owns an undeveloped lakefront parcel close to it.

Hitt undeveloped lakefront property

The planning commission will review the request at a meeting on Tuesday, January 23rd, 7 pm, at the Township office.  Notice of the meeting was sent to neighbors and published in the newspaper.  This is an open meeting, and individuals can take advantage of three minutes to express themselves during public comment.

Some neighbors, who received the notice, wondered if the owner proposed creating a subdivision.  Would those new home owners gain lake access through the Hitt lakefront property?  That set off alarm bells.  Would Clark Lake be accommodating a community dock where subdivision property owners would moor multiple boats and rafts?  This kind of thing is called funneling.  Those at Clark Lake and other locations have become aware of the downside consequences.

This website investigated, and here are the findings.

The attorney for Hitt Farms is Kevin Thomson, also a Clark Lake home owner.  He says the request to change zoning is based on the following.  A Hitt property neighbor, Vincent Simonetti, wished to purchase about a 40 x 40 foot section of the Hitt property so he could erect a pole barn.   But the current zoning (agriculture) would prevent a standalone “accessory structure.”  If the zoning were changed, to residential suburban, as in the request, such a structure would be allowed.

Vincent Simonetti property adjacent to the Hitt parcel in question.

Kevin Thomson further states this is the sole reason for the request, and it only includes the section of the Hitt parcel that is north of North Shore and south of North Lake.  The Township might also condition the zoning change in a way that would address funneling concerns.  However, another safeguard is already in place.  Funneling is prevented by Township law.  On September 16, 2019 Columbia Township adopted an ordinance to prevent funneling, known as the Columbia Township Common Use Riparian Lot Ordinance (CURL).  In essence, it stands in the way of attempts to establish multi-boat docking for property owners who would own land in a nearby subdivision.  Click here to read the ordinance.

The official notice as it appeared in the Exponent ad section on December 26, 2023.