Frequently Asked Questions about the Proposed New IBS Building

Last updated December 1, 2018. This page will be updated frequently.

What does the LTYC think about the IBS Building?

The LTYC has been a partner with IBS for more than fifty years, and wholeheartedly supports IBS’s goal of modernizing its facilities. Nor does the LTYC object in principle to the goal of the project to expand IBS’s commercial activities on the Harbor Springs waterfront. However, IBS is proposing to build a 33-foot-tall, modernist commercial structure in a different location from where its predecessor has been located for decades—and this new location will create substantial adverse effects on the LTYC and other adjacent property owners, fundamentally alter the uses and character of the Harbor Springs waterfront and change the way the public connects to the Harbor.

Imagine if another property owner along East Bay Street proposed to in-fill approximately 110ft from the current shoreline and construct a two-story modern commercial building (one-third of which is dedicated to office space) on the reclaimed land. At minimum, such a dramatic and impactful change to the Harbor Springs waterfront should involve public discussion and debate, extensive professional analysis of whether the relevant Zoning Code and Michigan state law provisions have been met, whether the status of the reclaimed land is clear, and whether the project comports with the community interest.

Was the LTYC consulted as the IBS plans were developed?

No.  The LTYC was first notified of the IBS plans on October 25, 2018, a week after IBS presented the plans to the Harbor Springs Planning Commission. To our knowledge, no neighbors or community members were consulted—or even notified—during the development of these IBS plans.

IBS owns the land. Can’t IBS build wherever they want?

Not necessarily. The City Zoning Code establishes important parameters for how structures are to be located, and how any new plans affect neighbors as well as the character of the waterfront. The proposed building location is also almost entirely on formerly submerged bottomlands that were deeded by the State of Michigan to IBS, which means that State law and the public interest also impose limits on the uses of the property.

Is the LTYC primarily concerned about the views from the LTYC porch?

This is certainly among our concerns.  But it is also important to recognize that the impact of the IBS building on the views from a variety of locations in Harbor Springs will be very significant.  It will change the way many members of the community will view the Harbor, as well as the view from the Harbor to the waterfront.

Note that the City of Harbor Springs Master Plan, enacted by the City Council in 2014, calls for rigorous protection of “the two most prized resources available to the community – views to the water, and views from the water,” and specifically notes the location of the proposed IBS building as one of the views that should be preserved.

Other LTYC concerns with the proposed building location include the impact the new building will have on small boat sailing from our sailing center, as well as the effects on our youth sailing program.

Will someone on the LTYC porch be able to see over the top of the building to Harbor Point and Little Traverse Bay?

No, not from any point on the ground or first floor of the LTYC property, according to detailed renderings given to the LTYC by Irish Boat Shop.

Unfortunately, IBS later asked us to remove the renderings from our website, so we have created a “brown box” diagram—doing our best to match the building dimensions from the renderings and mock-ups we were given. You can see that image here.

Could the LTYC move the bar and food services to the second floor?

We could potentially relocate our dining and bar area to the second floor of the clubhouse, but this would obviously be a massive capital improvement project that would likely require the construction of an entirely new clubhouse. We have no plans to do this.

Does moving the building away from the road and toward the lake improve the public views?

No. In fact, moving the building closer to the lake blocks the views from the waterfront parks and sidewalks along Bay Street.  Even from the Shay House and Shay Park moving the building towards the lake blocks more view.

Then why would the the Shay House and Shay Park’s views improve because of the new building?

The view improvement from the Shay house and Shay Park is simply because the building is moved further west—towards the Harbormaster’s office; however, the consequence of this move is blocked views from the waterfront parks and sidewalks on Bay Street between the Harbormaster’s office and the west edge of the Irish Boat Shop property.

We think that far more people are likely to enjoy the views of the Harbor from Bay Street and the waterfront parks than from the Shay Park location.  In any event, the LTYC believes that the best building location from a public views perspective is a topic that deserves public discussion and debate.

Will the new IBS site plan increase safety for Little Traverse Sailors?

This is decidedly unclear. IBS did not consult with the LTYC or Little Traverse Sailors in the development of the proposed plan. Without further study, it is unknown whether the new traffic pattern will enhance the safety of young sailors—it may result in more pickup and drop-off along Bay Street itself. The loss of views from the LTYC dock and waterfront into the Harbor is a safety concern. The potential for unpredictable changes in the wind flow as a result of a 33ft building alongside the LTYC/LTS sailing center is a safety concern.

Are there legal concerns with the proposed IBS building?

Yes. It is very much unclear that the proposed location of the building meets the Harbor Springs Zoning Code. Among other things, the Code requires that structures must be located so as to “minimize adverse effects upon adjacent properties.” It’s unquestionable that the proposed change in building location—a move from where a building of virtually the same size has been located for decades—has a range of substantial adverse effects on adjacent properties. By contrast, locating the new building on or close to the existing building footprint would create essentially no adverse effects.

There are also a series of legal concerns with the proposal to build this new building almost entirely on land that was formerly submerged bottomlands held by the State of Michigan as a public trust. IBS was deeded the property for a specific purpose (to build a marina) that was determined by the State to be in the public interest and received a resolution of support from the City Council. The purpose did not include retail, boat showroom, and offices.  Therefore, the proposed building is a change to the purpose for which the land was granted by the State, which raises legal concerns related to the public interest that need to be resolved.

The main updates page contains links to documents created on behalf of the LTYC detailing our concerns.

Then does the LTYC object to the purposes for which Irish Boat Shop wants a new building (retail, boat showroom, and offices)?

No. As we’ve noted throughout, the LTYC wholeheartedly supports IBS’s goal to modernize its facilities. We believe there exists a location on their property for their new building which meets their commercial needs while minimizing the harms to neighboring properties, the waterfront, the sailing community, and Harbor Springs more generally.  We stand ready to work with IBS on this goal.

What is the LTYC seeking to accomplish?

LTYC plans to continue engaging in a discussion with IBS as well as the broader Harbor Springs Community. The proposed new IBS building will be an important feature of the Harbor Springs waterfront for decades to come. LTYC welcomes the opportunity to work with IBS and the wider community to support sailing, boating, and access to the Habor for all.