Life on the Lakes: MiWaters and your waters: joint permit application tips

In previous articles, we have discussed the different categories of activities an inland lake landowner may require permitting for from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE.)

Generally, these are classified as General Permit (GP) procedures, Minor Project (MP) procedures, and public notice Individual Permit (IP) categories. All these are part of the Joint Permit Application (JPA) umbrella.

Typically, residential permits fall into the GP and MP categories. Common GP permits include maintenance dredging of inland lakes and streams of previously approved-for-dredging areas; wetland habitat restoration and enhancement; and removal of (man-made) structures in wetlands, inland lakes or streams. Common MP permits include bioengineering stabilization of inland lake shorelines; boat hoists, boat wells, boat ramps, and docks; and commonly used shoreline protection measures such as riprap shoreline protection and replacement of existing seawalls.

The State of Michigan has implemented the “MiWaters” online application interface for joint permit applications. Sometimes, a large online application can be intimidating to complete. We have some tips on staying organized, and knowing the “hard” questions before you begin.

  1. Knowing the category of your permit will speed up the review process.The MiWaters application will allow you to choose permit application categories (GP, MP and IP) or “unsure.” “Unsure” will result in the applicant paying a default $50 review fee, which is the same as the fee for a GP application. The application will then be reviewed by staff at the department. If your project falls into the GP category, after waiting for review, your application will likely proceed as submitted. However, if you select “unsure” and in fact have a MP project, your application will not begin processing until you are notified, and remit whatever additional fee is required to the department. So, identifying the proper category of permit can be a significant time savings from the very beginning of your project.

    A cursory question to your JPA is “is the property owner or easement holder different from the applicant?” In particular with inland lakes, the access property or lakefront property is often shared with other property owners. The JPA requires letters of authorization from all property owners and easement holders if different from the applicant. In many cases, obtaining said written permissions can be as easy as walking next door from the applicant’s property. However, associations, out-of-state landowners, properties owned by trusts and estates, and other considerations may come into play. If you are in a shared use situation, it is best to have letters of authorization ready to go before beginning the application.

    Should you have any questions, please contact us!