MI House committee hears debate on erosion control bill

Rising Waters

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A state House committee heard debate Tuesday on a bill that would allow temporary erosion control measures to be built along the Great Lakes without going through the permit process.

“This bill allows people the ability to do what (the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) is currently allowing. There is a trigger point that when Lake Michigan reaches a certain level, people can move quickly to save their homes. If left as is, there is no trigger and there are no promises,” Pam Stille, who lives along Lake Michigan in Spring Lake Township, testified at the hearing.

Rising waters and aggressive erosion within the last year have caused problems on private property, public land and roads all around Michigan. As of last week, Lake Michigan was 17 inches above the level recorded a year ago.

Senate Bill 714 passed on Jan. 30. It states a building permit for erosion control barriers would no longer be required if homeowners install them at certain depths in reference to lake level values. For Lake Michigan, that is 581.5 feet.

The structure must be constructed by a licensed contractor and the barrier itself must be approved by EGLE with minimal interference to fish and wildlife.

Stille organized a tour of a bluff-top neighborhood in December, in part so lawmakers could see the extent of the crisis firsthand.

“On Nov. 27, 2019, our home was not in danger. By 8 a.m. on Nov. 28, our home was seriously compromised,” Stille told lawmakers Tuesday. “That’s how quickly things change along the lakeshore. In less than 12 hours, we had lost over 30 feet of critical dune that had protected our home.”

If the House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation decides to approve the bill, it will head to the full House for a vote. The committee did not vote Tuesday.

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