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Public forum on Lakeshore erosion draws hundreds to Holland

One of the common questions for the panel of experts was if certain houses should be moved back.

HOLLAND, Michigan — Mary Lynn Webster has been around the Lakeshore her entire life.

"I have a family cottage that has been in my family for more than a hundred years. It's being affected because of the erosion, the stairs are gone and I've never seen that happen in my entire life," says Webster.

Webster was among the hundreds who came to Holland Thursday night with concerns about the erosion that has devastated the West Michigan Lakeshore. One of the common questions for the panel of experts was if certain houses should be moved back.

"It is very site specific, in other words if it is that close to the bluff you have no choice but to either tear it down or rebuild on a distance that is acceptable," says Jack Bouman of Coldwell Banker.

Another concern regards the process of obtaining a permit. Experts say you need to contact your local emergency management department.

"Any documentation that they need to make their case that it's an emergency situation, we have aerial photographs, we have aerial video that we can work with those homeowners to give them for their application," says Nick Bonstell the Emergency Management Director of Ottawa County.

But a point of frustration for many is the lack of funding assistance at the state and county level.

"Right now there are no specific dollars earmarked for being able to take care of homeowners, their property or any of those types of things," says Bonstell.

Homeowners, dealing with flooding and erosion may soon have a new option. A House bill introduced this week, would allow them to dredge "bottom sand" to fill sandbags, for minor projects.

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