2018-10-06 / News

New Retaining Wall Needed for Behind Small Point Bed and Breakfast

By Stephanie Fortino

“It’s now an overburden sitting on a sack of marbles that wants to roll down the hill.”

That’s how Small Point Bed and Breakfast owner Brian Findley described the sliding hillside behind his property on Mission Point. The bed and breakfast is just east of Mission Point Resort and encroaches on state land. The retaining wall behind the house is in danger of collapse and needs to be replaced soon.

Mr. Findley discussed the wall with the Planning Commission at its meeting Tuesday, September 11. The cement block retaining wall is only four feet high, and the hillside behind it is slowly sliding. Last winter, the wall moved and is now almost pushing against the house, he said, resting anywhere from about an inch to three feet away.

The hill, which is on Mission Point Resort’s property, dates to when the resort was built. The limestone bluff is unstable and the dirt and vegetation on it shifts during the freeze-thaw cycles.

The new retaining wall will require extensive engineering, Mr. Findley said. At the Mackinac Island State Park Commission meeting Friday, September 28, he explained that the wall will be 13 feet high at its highest point, and about eight feet high on the portion that extends onto state park land. It will be engineered so that the bottom of the wall will anchor the weight of the hillside.

The Ware family, owners of Mission Point Resort, have been helpful, Mr. Findley said, and support removing the old rock. The project would also require cutting into the hillside around the house so a new retaining wall can be built. A portion of the new wall will be on the resort’s property.

An access corridor will need to be cleared on state park land, since the wall extends about 10 feet into Mackinac Island State Park. The corridor will be used during construction, he explained, and for maintenance.

The Planning Commission supported the project, although Chair Michael Straus raised some concerns about how the wall will look. Mr. Findley said it will be made of fabricated red rock and be only slightly visible on the sides of the house. Mr. Straus favored a more natural look.

The hill must be rebuilt, as the rock layer that has caused the hill to be unstable needs to be removed, Mr. Findley said. Once finished, the hill will be tiered and cedar trees will not be allowed to grow there. Instead, other trees with large tap roots will be planted, which he believes will help keep the soil in place. The park commission will decide what vegetation to plant, he said.

Mr. Findley is working with U.P. Engineers and Architects of Sault Ste. Marie. While the engineering plans were not finalized for the September 11 meeting, Mr. Findley needed the Planning Commission’s approval to get started on the project.

The Planning Commission approved the project contingent on a detailed engineering report, letters of approval from Mission Point Resort and Mackinac State Historic Parks, and a state park use permit.

The Mackinac Island State Park Commission approved the project and granted a two-year use permit for the encroachment onto state land. The commercial use permit costs $150.

Mr. Findley hopes to begin construction as soon as possible this fall.

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