Public comment open on seaplane dock permit in Hubbell

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Torch Lake Township Supervisor Brian Cadwell reads from a notice of the 20-day public comment period on the dock application for Isle Royale Seaplanes.

HUBBELL — The public comment period is underway for a permit related to a planned seaplane facility in Hubbell.

A 20-day comment period started Monday for the floating dock to be used by Isle Royale Seaplanes at its new location.

In the application, site owner Bill Siler said the floating dock would involve less impact than a stationary dock. He anticipated minimal impact on water, as the shoreline is riprap, and will only be changed at the spot of the ramp.

The mooring structure and boat launch ramp originally received a permit in December, but was applied for and granted under private use, rather than commercial. That involves a separate process, which can potentially involve a public hearing.

If no written requests are received within the 20-day period, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy can grant the permit without a public hearing.

Whether a hearing is held or a permit granted rely on the same type of factors, EGLE said in the notice. The comments received play a part. So does the work’s potential impact on the public trust or interest, such as navigation, fish, wildlife or pollution.

People can comment on the project by finding it at mienviro.michigan.gov/ncore/external/publicnotice/info/-4466862515631889863/details. Comments will be accepted until May 5.

“If you want to express your opinion about the proposed seaplane project, that’s the way to do it. That’s the time to do it,” Torch Lake Township Supervisor Brian Cadwell said during Wednesday’s board meeting.

Isle Royale Seaplanes plans to operate its seasonal flights to Isle Royale National Park out of the Hubbell location starting this year after operating in Ripley.

The seaplane operation would include eight flights a day during the summer. The most noise comes from takeoffs, lasting about 45 seconds, Rector said earlier this month. He also said planes would be at least 500 feet off the ground by the time they crossed the shoreline. At Wednesday’s meeting, multiple people expressed wariness of the noise the planes would create.

Bob Hodges, a Franklin Township resident who had lived across the canal from the Ripley site, said it had affected his enjoyment of the summertime, when he likes to keep his windows open.

“When they take off, you have to discontinue your phone call that you’re on,” he said. “You can’t hear anything on the TV. And granted, it only lasts for 10 or 15 seconds when they take off. But the problem is … it’s constant every hour, every hour and a half all day long, all summer long. And it gets old after a while.”

Another resident doubted the potential benefits to local business, saying most seaplane users would not remain in Hubbell long enough to spend money locally.

Construction at the site also includes the Isle Royale Seaplanes base and seasonal housing for employees. The housing requires an EGLE campground permit, which was still being evaluated last week, EGLE spokesman Jeff Johnston said.

Because the Hubbell location is on a former Superfund site, EGLE has monitored the sites to make sure any stamp sands exposed during construction are covered back up. Earlier this month, Siler said 75% of the site had already been capped. That trend has continued, Cadwell said Wednesday.

“He had that huge pile torn up, and now in the last few days, I see it’s all back down,” he said after Wednesday’s meeting.


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