Norton Shores home clings to top of eroding dune

Muskegon County

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — A Norton Shores home is on the verge of falling into Lake Michigan after erosion and high water levels depleted the dry land.

The city said the cottage, which is on Idlewild Road south of W. Sherman Boulevard, is no longer safe for use and must be torn down. 

“You can see part of the foundation is exposed on the dunes side,” Todd Kempf of the city’s building inspection department said Thursday, describing the home’s problems. “There’s a deck that is attached to the side of the home with a tree that grows out of the deck and the root ball of the tree is exposed.”

norton shores house in danger
A Norton Shores home is poised to topple into Lake Michigan after erosion problems. (July 25, 2019)

Kempf said the home is virtually hanging off a cliff. He said his department worries that if the tree near the deck falls, it will pull the entire deck with it. He said there is no way to prevent the dune from washing out and taking the home with it, so the city concluded it must be torn down.

“Because of the engineering and everything, there’s no way to hold the dune back. You can’t beat Mother Nature,” Kempf said.

The homeowner has been very proactive and has already started arranging for the home’s demolition, Kempf said.

In other similar instances, homeowners have been able to move their houses further inland. That’s not an option in this case because of the amount of property the family owns.

The city is working with state environmental agency to get emergency permits to tear the home down as soon as possible. That should happen in the next few weeks.

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