Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director
This article continues our focus on EGLE Permits that riparians might find of interest. We will occasionally provide info about permits issued, or denied. We are also providing updates about contested permits challenged by various groups in the contested permit process through the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (MOAHR).
The permits/cases of interest in this article are:
APPLICATION FOR MARINA PERMIT – MiWATERS #HPC-JEM9-EXPBJ, HUTCHINS LAKE: This application involves the request to install a new marina that includes permanent and seasonal docks/piers with finger docks/piers, and wetland fill within Hutchins Lake, Clyde Township, Allegan County. The marina is intended for use by multiple families/land owners. It is not a commercial “marina’ in the traditional sense. EGLE does not require permits for seasonal docks/piers placed by riparians on their bottomland, and used only by the close immediate family of the riparian. However, once non-family members use a common dock/pier, then a permit is required by the Michigan Natural Resource and Environmental Act (NREPA). (NOTE: Previous info on this permit application was reported in our newsletters and can be found at mymlsa.org/news.
The first public notice for the approximate 150 foot long ordinary high water mark (OHWM) permanent and seasonal dock/pier, and wetland fill, was posted on March 18, 2022. Only written comments were invited no later than April 7, 2022. No public hearing was scheduled, but EGLE reserved the right to conduct such a hearing. Based on many written comments, EGLE decided to schedule a public hearing which occurred virtually on May 9, 2022 at 6pm. Scores of concerned people presented oral and additional comments. EGLE’s rules provide that such public hearings are informational only, so that views can be expressed and facts presented to the EGLE. The administrative record established on May 9, 2022 contains many personal views, some facts, and apparently two scientific type studies about conditions in the lake.
The studies referenced at the May 9 Hhearing are the findings in the “Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment Report – 2009-63 Status of the Fishery Resource”, and a lake evaluation report by a well-known Michigan lake management company. Many comments raised concerns about violations of Anti-funneling/Key Holing provisions. Unfortunately, Parts 301 and 303 of the NREPA do not specifically factor in such limitations. Such protections are the purview of local zoning ordinances. As a result, EGLE will most likely not address those valid concerns. The decision on the permit application should occur sometime before the fall of 2022.
CAFO – MOAHR Docket # 20-009773: This appeal involves the new CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) permit requirements issued by EGLE on April 1, 2020. For analysis and background, please refer to Parts 1- 3 of this series in the NEWS section of our website: mymlsa.org/news/.
The petitioners, respondent (EGLE) and interveners have submitted post-hearing briefs. In an interesting twist in the case, the petitioners have included a challenge on the grounds that EGLE had to first make a new “Rule” before the 2020 CAFO permit conditions could be issued. Petitioners also went into detail alleging how EGLE did not follow its own rules. The matter is complex and a Proposal For Decision (PFD) by the Administrative Law Judge will probably be issued sometime before the end of calendar year 2022.
NEW BOATING ACCESS SITE (BAS) – MOAHR Docket # 16-015208: This case involves an application by the Michigan DNR to fill just under a half acre of Eagle Lake and construct a totally new BAS without any DNR provided disinfection/decontamination station for the control of aquatic invasive species (AIS). The matter was contested in the MOAHR forum for contested permits. As this newsletter goes to press, the final decision by the EGLE Director has not yet been issued, and has been pending the final agency decision since October 21, 2021 when the hearing process was concluded. For analysis and background, please refer to the NEWS section of our website: mymlsa.org/news/.