St. Clair Flats

Contact: Tom Graf 517-284-5561

Part 339, Control of Certain State Lands, of the NREPA (formerly the St. Clair Flats Act, PA 326 of 1913 as amended), authorizes the DEQ to lease certain bottomlands on and around Harsens Island at the mouth of the St. Clair River in Lake St. Clair for residential purposes. The Flats is a large coastal marsh that provides critical habitat for migratory waterfowl, wading birds, sport and forage fish, muskrats and other aquatic life.

The St. Clair Flats Management Plan was developed to provide a sound basis for future management decisions concerning the protection of this unique area for the benefit of the general public. A second objective of the plan is to provide greater certainty to leaseholders that the State is committed to honoring the leases entered into good faith by private individuals. The Management Plan also provides incentives so that developed structures will be well maintained and proper sanitary facilities will be installed.

The DEQ conducts the same public trust review before issuing deeds and construction permits for these bottomlands in the Flats as required under Part 325 of the NREPA.

APPLICATION FOR DEED

Part 339 was amended to provide the authority to issue deeds for developed lots in the Flats.  In order to qualify for a deed, the property must meet the following criteria:

  • Any buildings on the property must meet current township building codes and county sanitation codes.
  • The property is protected from erosion.  If there are portions of the property that are above the elevation of 575.3 feet International Great Lakes Datum 1985 that are not protection from erosion, contact the Water Resources Division for a determination of whether a deed can be issued and for information on construction permits for shore protection.

You must also submit:

  • Documentation that you are the legal leaseholder such as a current lease assignment
  • A metes-and-bounds survey of the upland portion of the lot is required to determine the legal description of the property eligible for a deed.  Any lot or portion of a lot that is submerged or below the elevation of 575.3 feet International Great Lakes Datum 1985 is not eligible for a deed. 

The fee for the deed is based upon Clay Township's estimated land value as determined by the Assessor's Office.  We recommend you provide a copy of the metes-and-bounds survey noted above to the Assessor's Office so that they have an accurate description of the parcel.  This updated property description will be used to calculate the value of the State's ownership interest.  

An application for a deed for an eligible leased parcel can be found here or in MiWaters our new web-based permitting and compliance database.  The following information is required to be submitted:

  1. Completed application form.
  2. $500.00 filing fee - make check payable to the "State of Michigan"
  3. Documentation of Leasehold Interest in Lot
  4. Approval from St. Clair County Health Department for sanitary waste disposal system (where applicable)
  5. Metes-and-bounds survey of parcel protected from erosion (seawall, rock rip rap). The survey must be done by a registered land surveyor and include the water's edge and the ordinary high water mark (575.3 feet International Great Lakes Datum 1985) at the time of the survey along any portion of the lot that is natural shoreline.  Contact the Great Lakes Shorelands Unit, at 517-335-3471 regarding any questions on this issue.
  6. Completed Description of Properties Form

A copy of the 2006 amendments to Part 339 can be found here.  These amendments explain your rights and obligations.

An application must be submitted at least one year prior to the expiration date of the lease.  Also, if the deed application is approved, the full fee must be submitted within one year of notification by the DEQ of the selling price.  If a deed is issued, the DEQ will record the document with the St. Clair County Register of Deeds. 

Please note that processing the application will take approximately six months. 

APPLICATION FOR LEASE ASSIGNMENT

Part 339 also requires that before selling or transferring a leased property in the Flats, the parties involved shall submit a lease assignment application to the DEQ for approval of the transfer of the lease.  An application fee of of $250.00, (payable to the State of Michigan) is also required.  Upon approval by the DEQ, the assignment form will be recorded with the St. Clair County Register of Deeds.  A lease assignment form can be found here or in MiWaters our new web-based permitting and compliance database.

Please send paper applications to:

  Great Lakes Shorelands Unit
  DEQ - Water Resources Division
  P.O. Box 30458
  Lansing, MI  48909-7958

If you have any further questions, please contact Tom Graf at 517-284-5561.