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Russ Ravary
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 White Lake Sunset

Public Lakes Oakland County


     So when buying a waterfront property in Oakland County you are going to encounter two terms.  Public Lakes in Oakland County or private lakes.   There is a discussion on whether a private lake is better than a public lake.  I myself live on a public lake and I see no problem with it at all.


I will start with the explanation of a private lake.  A private lake is a lake that the public has no access to.  There is no DNR boat ramp.  Private lakes are for the use of the land owners surrounding the lake.  Sometimes a subdivision that is off the lake has a beach or access point to use the lake.  That access point is usually fenced and many times locked.   The residents have their own keys to get into the beach area and “Joe Public” is locked out.  At these subdivision beach sometimes there are docking rights, but it is limited and there is usually a wait list to get a dock.  Some beach access points for subdivisions are not allowed to dock a boat.  So be sure to check when the listing says “access to lake” or docking privileges.  Most private lakes have home owner associations that govern the use of the lake and the activities on the lake.  So sometimes there are rules.

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So let’s talk about public lakes in Oakland County.  Most public lakes in Southeastern Michigan there is a DNR access point or ramp on the lake.  At sometime the DNR bought up some property so the public could use the lake.   Many people are under the false belief that an unlimited number of people from the general public can get on the lake.  That is not true.  The DNR access ramps have a certain number of parking spots.  Once those parking spots are filled then no other boat can be launched until one of the spot gets emptied.  If the lot has 14 spots only 14 boats are allowed on the lake.


The whole crux of the matter is that most people say public lakes are busier than private lakes.  Yes I believe that is true.  However, most big all sports lakes are very busy on the weekends, and even more so on holiday weekends.  It does not matter if it is a public lake or a private lake.  Weekends on the lake are going to have heavy boat traffic.  During the week boating traffic falls off almost to nothing.  Some lakes are very quiet during the week days and it doesn’t matter if it is a public lake or private.


I sometimes think that the argument about private lakes is wrong because some private lakes have marinas.  Case in point is Elizabeth Lake.  It has a large marina where the public can rent a boat slip.  So it can be a busy lake on the weekends.  Some private lakes have canals.  When a lake has a canal it has many more lake residents than a lake that doesn’t have any canals. 


Bottom line is that a public lake is not bad by any means.  I don’t believe non lake residents take care of the lake less.  Nor do I think that they break lake laws any worse.  In fact I believe that there is a bigger sheriff patrol boat presence on public lakes.  Which controls people that do drink and drive, that don’t think the rules apply to them.


On private lakes you are going to see more underage kids driving jet skis than on a public lake.  Simply because there is nobody there to enforce the law.    So there are pros and cons to both private and public lakes.  I don’t think either one is a deal breaking when looking a lakefront properties in Oakland County.     



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Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 06/28/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 06/28/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of RealComp MLS (last updated Tue 06/28/2022 2:17:40 PM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Russ Ravary may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved.
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