Sand Dune Protection vs. Private Property Rights

12 Sep 2012

Last month Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation amending Part 353 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, Michigan’s Sand Dunes Protection and Management Law.  Of Michigan’s 275,000 acres of sand dune formations, 70,000 acres of the most sensitive dunes along the shorelines of Lakes Michigan and Superior are designated as “critical dune” areas.  One-third of the critical dune areas are privately owned.

 The amendment broadens the rights of private property owners in critical dune areas to allow construction of driveways to access their homes and allows permitting structures on the lakeward face of a dune in limited circumstances.  The amendment requires owners within a critical dune area to obtain a permit from the local unit of government in which the critical dune area is located or the Department of Environmental Quality, depending on the situation, prior to construction.  Notice of a submitted permit application is required to be given to anyone that makes a written request for notification of pending applications. The local unit of government may hold a public hearing on pending applications.  A public hearing pertaining to the permit application is required if two or more persons who own real property within 2 miles of the proposed project make a written request for a hearing.

 Proponents of the amendment believe that it will resolve deficiencies in the current law that put Michigan at risk in lawsuits over private property rights but some believe the amendment could expose critical dune areas to irresponsible development.  In the end they may both be right. 

 What do you think?

For details of the amendment visit here.   For general information on Michigan’s coastal dunes here. 

Leave a Comment to “Sand Dune Protection vs. Private Property Rights”

  1. Alan Hahn 13. Sep, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Broaden private property rights, protect natural resources, and some common sense…all sounds good to me.

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