New Michigan Public Road Ends Law Invokes
Enforcement, Resentment and Confusion

In hundreds of lakefront communities throughout Michigan, local  government officials, lakefront property owners, law enforcement officials as well as those with a long history of using publicly owned road ends to install their docks, boat hoists and other boat associated equipment are struggling to come to terms with the letter and intent of  Michigan’s new public road ends law, known as Public Act 56.

Signed by Lieutenant Governor Calley on March 22, 2012, Public Act 56 provided statewide codification of now twenty year old court rulings that limit public road ends to one seasonal public dock (if approved by the local unit of government and the issuance of an MI DEQ permit), forbids overnight mooring as well as the  installation of boat hoists. Please read Public Act 56 in its entirety on page two of this newsletter.

Based on our recent conversations with various township officials, law enforcement agencies as well as the with DEQ Water Resource Division officials, here is a synopsis of various activities that have ensued as a result of the passage of Public Act 56:

  • Individuals who have attempted to install seasonal docks and/boat hoists on publicly owned road have been warned by state, county and township law enforcement officials to cease and desist.  ML&SA is not aware of any case where law enforcement officials have issued the $500.00 dollar per day fine specified for violations under  Public Act 56.
  • The MI DEQ has just completed a public comment period regarding a proposed Minor Permit category for which local units of government would have to apply for and gain issuance of a DEQ permit before installing a seasonal “public dock at a public road end” under the auspices of Public Act 56.  The proposed Minor Permit category has not yet been finalized by the MI DEQ; nor has it yet been determined whether the DEQ will issue such permits without first requiring public notification of  affected lakefront communities.
  • Under the proposed MI DEQ Minor Permit category covering installation of seasonal public docks, only local units of government will be able to apply for and receive MI DEQ permits for the installation of public docks at public road ends or on publicly owned lands. Permits will not be issued to private individuals or groups for the installation of public docks on public lands.
  •  Local units of government may not yet be aware that an MI DEQ permit will be required for the installation of “of one seasonal public dock at public road ends”. ML&SA strongly suggests that our members seek to educate their respective local officials regarding this requirement.
  • Public Act 56 does not apply to privately owned road ends or easements owned by individuals or lake associations or to those who possess legal “recorded deed, recorded easement, or other recorded  dedication.”








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