Michigan’s New Road-Ends Law, Public Act 56 of 2012

Public Act 56 of 2012 is a newly enacted law regarding the use of public road-ends terminating at the edge of a Michigan inland lake or stream.

Public Act 56 makes it a crime to use public road-ends for placing boat hoists or boat anchorage systems, mooring or docking boats between midnight and sunrise as well as 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 creates an implied 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.

Additionally, only single-season docks authorized by the local government body and approved by the Dept 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 the new law  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 statute also does not appear to apply to roads ending at any of Michigan’s Great Lakes.

However, Public Act 56 is unclear if other equity-based claims, like adverse possession or prescriptive easements, will still apply or act as a defense to this new criminal statute.

Author: Philip Ellison

Philip L. Ellison, MBA, JD, Esq is an attorney, business counselor, and civil litigator with Outside Legal Counsel PLC. He represents riparians, backlotters, and others protecting water access on Michigan's recreational lakes. Visit his online profile at www.olcplc.com.

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