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Did you know there are amendments that make it easier to build in critical dunes?

On August 7, 2012 Public Act 297 amended Part 353 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (commonly known as the Critical Dune Act).  These amendments place a tougher burden on the Department of Environmental Quality ("DEQ") to deny any permit applications. The DEQ will now have to demonstrate that the proposed use by the owner will significantly damage the public interest in the land.  These amendments limit who can challenge the DEQ's decisions to the applicant and adjacent property owners.  Therefore it will be harder for the DEQ to deny permits, and the number of people who can challenge an issued permit will be reduced.

Also eliminated the was the "public interest" standard from the special exception provisions of the Act.  That standard required, among other things, an analysis of the availability of feasible and prudent alternative locations or methods for proposed construction on steep slopes (areas with slopes steeper than a one-foot vertical rise in a three-foot horizontal plane).  The DEQ used this standard to reject many permit applications.  This should make it far easier to obtain special exceptions to allow construction on steeper slopes. 

The amendments also require the DEQ to permit driveways and other accessibility measures for dwellings or other permanent buildings allowed in a critical dune area.  The DEQ had often denied applications for the construction of driveways over steep slopes within critical dune areas in favor of the so-called "park and walk" alternative.  An alternative that required homeowners to construct parking spaces in flatter areas well off the steep slopes, usually below the building site on the dunes and then access the planned structure by stairs, making it difficult for the elderly and disabled to access their homes, and will enable many property owners to utilize their property for year round residence, instead of just a summer Lake Michigan getaway.

Published Friday, March 28, 2014 8:28 AM by Kersh | Lauri | Dave | Michigan Homes and Cottages

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