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How to Appeal EGLE’s Dock Permit Decision

Written by Lawrence Opalewski on July 23, 2021 Category: Docks, Land Use and Zoning, Michigan Land Use and Zoning, Water Access

A few months ago, we posted an article on when a riparian owner needs a dock permit for a Michigan inland lake or stream. As we said, those permits are issued by the Water Resources Division of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). But what happens if your permit application is denied by EGLE? Or what happens when a neighbor is granted a permit that infringes on your riparian rights? Fortunately, there is a right to appeal a EGLE dock permit decisiond.

Under MCL 324.30110, “if a person is aggrieved by any action or inaction of the department, he or she may request a formal hearing on the matter involved.”

Who can appeal an EGLE dock permit decision? Under the law, you must be “aggrieved” in order to maintain an appeal of an EGLE permit decision. If you are the original permit applicant, then you certainly meet the definition of “aggrieved.” If you are a neighbor or other concerned person, the question is closer. To be aggrieved in the context of dock permits you must generally show that you have suffered some sort of unique impact on your riparian rights. The closer you are to the proposed dock, the easier this is to satisfy.

When must you appeal? An appeal must be filed within 60 days of the decision to approve or deny the permit. It is vital to meet this deadline, otherwise you will waive the right to an appeal of the decision.

How does the appeal process work? First you must complete and submit a “Petition for Contested Case Hearing.” You will then receive a letter from EGLE containing two options for the appeal. First, you can choose to proceed to a hearing. Second, you can choose to proceed through an informal resolution process. Most cases are resolved through informal resolution where the parties arrive at a mutually agreeable outcome.

If you proceed to a hearing, the parties submit briefs on the issues and hold an evidentiary hearing. The hearing is similar to a trial, with all parties having the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence. After the hearing, a written decision is issued by the Administrative Law Judge. If you are still unsatisfied by the decision, you may appeal to the county circuit court for further review.

While an initial permit application does not always require an attorney, it is recommended to secure representation for any appeal. These appeals involve issues of law and hearings which typically require the expertise of an attorney.

The attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, PLC are experienced in matters involving EGLE permits and appeals. If you need to pursue or defend an appeal from an EGLE decision, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to speak with you.

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