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Monday, October 1, 2007

All-Sports Lakes?

I have yet to figure out what criteria Michigan uses to call a body of water a lake verses calling it a pond. It is obvious to me that it hasn’t got much to do with size, since several very small bodies of water in our area that I think I could throw a rock across are called lakes. I’m just not sure that there is a good definition of a lake in Michigan, but if there is it seems to be some very small amount of water surface acreage. There is a definition of a large lake on the DEQ site – a lake with over 1,000 acres of surface – but no definition that I could find of where the break point is between a lake and a pond. Many of these “lakes” in our area are also private; that is they are completely contained within the boundaries of the neighborhood, with no public access. They are most often controlled by the homeowners association of the neighborhood; and, it is that groups who dictates what activities are allowed on the lake.

Be that as it may, the next question that is begged is what constitutes an “all-sports lake?” Just what are the sports that one has to be able to enjoy to make a lake an all-sports lake? Some agents that I’ve run into will tell you that if you can fish, swim and boat on the lake (no matter what size or type of boat) then it’s all-sports. To them, that means that a pontoon, or canoe or personal watercraft (a jet ski) qualify as a boat and so it is all sports. To other agents, if you can’t put a water ski boat on the lake, it’s not all sports. I’ve had listing that were called all sports where a water ski boat would have to be making very tight turns all the time to pull a skier, but they are classified as all sports.

I lived for 23 years on Upper Straights Lake in Orchard Lake. Upper Straights is one of three lakes in a chain that has Middle Straights and Lower Straights Lakes. Upper Straights Lake is fairly deep in spots (up to 85 feet) and was about 2 miles long, if not very wide (perhaps a 1/2 mile at the widest), but you could ski from one end to the other, so it was truly an all sports lake. I’ve also had houses listed on some of the small lakes in Highland Township (sometimes called run-off or pothole lakes), many of which one could likely walk across without the water coming up over your head and most of which one could ski on only if you could find someone who can row awfully fast. Yet all of them were classified as all sports lakes.

So who’s to say what constitutes an all-sports lake - the State, the Country, or Township, the neighborhood homeowners association, or the Realtor? Perhaps the final authority is the buyer. If the buyer only wants to paddle around in a kayak or canoe or do a little fishing off the shore or in a row boat, then most of these smaller lakes would suffice. If zipping around on a personal watercraft is the buyers’ idea of “all sports” on a lake, then more power to them. If watching sunsets over the lake and taking an occasional paddle boat ride is “all sports” enough for the buyer, who am I to tell them that it’s not. I try to be very honest about whether or not ski boats are allowed or advised on the body of water in question. Some private lakes have rules about no power boats and some allow just electric motors. Many private lakes allow power boats but their size and depth dictate that only pontoons and personal watercraft would be appropriate. As long as the buyer is informed about any and all restrictions on the body of water, then it is their personal choice whether they think of it as an all-sports lake or a nice big pond.

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