EGLE to homeowners: ‘You should do something to protect it’ from lakeshore erosion

HOLLAND, Mich. — At a town hall Wednesday in Holland, people living along the lakeshore got to ask the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy about ongoing erosion problems on Lake Michigan due to high water levels.

Lots of folks felt like they didn’t get answers.

The main frustration? Homeowners are required to get permits to do install temporary measures like sandbags and another permit for permanent solutions.

“You don’t understand. I’m looking at my entire retirement falling into Lake Michigan,” one concerned homeowner said.

EGLE says they get the frustrations. They also said while they can’t tell homeowners to break the law, they aren’t likely to fine people who are attempting to protect their homes from erosion.

“I also tell people if your house is in imminent danger, you should do something to protect it. I can’t give them verbal approval, because it’s not in compliance with the laws of EGLE,”  EGLE environmental engineer John Bayha said.

On Wednesday, EGLE announced an expedited permitting process. Before, the process to get a permit to build along the lakeshore could take months. The state has diverted employees from other departments to help with the process.

They’ve also set up a triage system to asses the damage. Meaning homes in the most danger are on the priority list for a permit.

“We are frustrated. This is high water. It’s been here, and the predictions are that they will be here for the next few months, if not longer,” EGLE’s Luis Saldivia said.

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