Public Act 56 - Michigan Road Ends

Access where the water meets the road...




Public Act 56 of 2012 is a relatively new law regarding the use of public road-ends terminating at the edge of a Michigan inland lake or stream. The new law, codified as a new section of Part 301 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, legislatively attempts to address issues regarding "inappropriate use" of public road-ends designated for public water access. In short, the new section outlaws private docks, piers, boat hoists, and similar structures from being placed at public road-ends.


An example where 2012 PA 56 affects water rights in Glen Arbor, MI

The law also makes it a misdemeanor to use public road-ends for placing boat hoists or boat anchorage systems, mooring or docking boats between midnight and sunrise and installing a dock or wharf. The penalty is a $500 fine, with each 24-hour period constituting a separate and new violation, thus allowing for subsequent and repeated citations. The Road-Ends Law also implies a cause of action in the civil courts as well.

Expect local police and sheriff departments to start being injected into neighborhood disputes over water rights.


An example of a road-end contained within a subdivision plat from Higgins Lake

Additionally, only single-season docks authorized by the local government and approved by the Department of Environmental Quality will be permitted via DEQ regulations and standards known as "the Minor Permit category."

One important aspect under the Road-Ends Law is that Public Act 56, as amended, does not apply to privately-owned road-ends or access easements owned by those (i.e. lake and homeowner associations) who possess a private right via a recorded deed, recorded easement, or other recorded dedication. The law also does not appear to apply to roads ending at any of Michigan's five Great Lakes.

The law makes unclear if other equity-based claims, like adverse possession or prescriptive easements, will apply.

Protect Your Rights

OLC represents private land owners regarding disputes with local governments, enforcement officials, neighbors, home and property owners associations, and others. Contact a riparian rights attorney at Outside Legal Counsel today.