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Update: Legislation that May Impact Lakefront Property Owners in Michigan

By June 14, 2018 No Comments

By Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

This article was written to update readers about legislation previously reported on within past editions of this newsletter or within The Michigan Riparian magazine:

LARGE QUANTITY WATER WITHDRAWALS – House Bill No. 5638

Introduced on February 22, 2018, the bill was referred to the House committee on Natural Resources. Subsequent Public Hearings occurred with the Farm Bureau supporting the reduction in process review steps, and the non-disclosure of certain water data  Numerous organizations, including Trout Unlimited and the nonprofit For the Love Of Water (FLOW) , opposed the Bill because of the potential impact on groundwater and waterways.

Up to this point, anyone seeking to siphon more than 100,000 gallons per day of groundwater, water from our rivers, or the Great Lakes, must receive approval and report the amount of water they use to the DEQ, under requirements of the multi-state Great Lakes Compact (2008).  Data from such withdrawals is also generally publicly available through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

On May 16, 2018, the House passed Substitute Bills H-3 and H-5, which scaled back some of the initially proposed relaxation of regulations and data secrecy provisions. The House and Senate votes were overwhelmingly in favor of the modified water withdrawal requirements. The fast moving legislation reached Governor Snyder’s desk on June 11, 2018, and it is unknown if he will sign it.  Future articles in this newsletter or the RIPARIAN magazine will provide more information as it becomes available.

SHORT-TERM RENTALS – House Bill 4503 (2017) and Senate Bill 329 (2017)

Since 4/25/2017, HB4503 has been referred to House Committee on Tourism and Outdoor Recreation with no subsequent action taken by the Michigan House. Likewise the companion Senate Bill 0329 (2017) has been referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government, with no subsequent action taken by the Michigan Senate.

Around the state, supporters, and opponents of the proposed legislation remain vocal about the proposed laws designed to pre-empt local zoning control of such property uses.   The Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association both oppose the legislation because, as written, the State would permit such rentals in most zoning districts.

The city of Grand Haven MI, on the sunset coast of Michigan, is a recent example of how local government worked with property owners for several months, and received significant public input, before implementing an ordinance regulating short-term rentals in a manner that permitted rentals in certain zoning districts, while also prohibiting short-term rentals in several neighborhoods.

Legislative observers believe the matter is still pending and could see action sometime before the December 2018 House and Senate recess.

UNIFORM SEPTIC CODE – House Bills 5752 and 5753

On March 22,2018 House Bills 5752 and 5753 were referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.  The Bills would add Part 128 (Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems) to the Public Health Code to establish state and local standards for onsite wastewater treatment systems (commonly called septic systems)

Septic systems are a form of onsite sewage treatment common in rural Michigan communities, homes surrounding lakes/streams, and throughout some suburban communities as well. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) estimates there are 130,000 failing systems currently operating in Michigan. That represents about 1-in-10 of more than 1.3-million systems installed statewide.  The DEQ further estimates that Michigan’s numerous failing septic systems release upwards of 31 million gallons of raw sewage every day into our groundwater, which then can enter our lakes and streams/rivers. Yet, Michigan is the only state in the country without a uniform septic code.

 House Representatives Hammoud and Lower introduced the Bills, with no other sponsors.  No hearing dates have been set as of June 14, 2018.