By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director
The summer of 2019 saw a large bridge installed on Lobdell Lake in Argentine Township near Fenton, MI. The bridge owner connected a private lakefront property off of Whitehead Drive to the property owner’s island in the lake known locally as Turtle Island. The bridge had a drawbridge feature but it did not pull up completely vertically and was situated in a marshy area of the lake. The entire span was in excess of thirty (30) feet.
Lake residents were surprised when the major bridge construction project started and made inquiries to local township and state EGLE/DEQ officials. It turned out that the bridge owner did not submit any permit applications to the township or state which are required to build the bridge. As the bridge was being constructed the township issued a “stop work order” because of local ordinance violations which was ignored by the property owner.
The EGLE/DEQ Water Resources Division (WRD) also conducted an inspection on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 that found the bridge was installed in violation of Parts 301 and 303 of the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA). Those parts of the NREPA apply to inland lakes and streams as well the wetland protection laws. As is fairly common practice of the WRD, state officials even tried to find a basis to commence an “after-the-fact” permit process for the bridge. However, the violations of Part 301 and Part 303 were so massive WRD determined a state permit would not have been granted even if the owner had applied for one. Subsequently, EGLE/DEQ/WRD issued a violation notice and ordered the bridge removed.
The bridge was long and it was massive in size, but it has been removed. Everyone in the area is aware of the need to check on any required local/state permits prior to commencing construction on or near riparian property. Riparians state-wide should take notice of this costly blunder that could have been avoided.