How is the authority to establish the lakes granted?
All four lakes (Sanford, Wixom, Smallwood and Secord) are “artificial lakes” created by the damming of the Tobacco and Tittabawassee rivers. The authority to “have lakes” is somewhat complicated and involves an understanding of over 100 years of historical information that led to the formation of the lakes and the relationship with the private dam owner.
In May 2019, the Midland Circuit Court entered an order (“2019 Lake Level Order”) establishing the legal levels for each of the lakes in accordance with Part 307, Inland Lake Levels, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 Pa 451, as amended.
Part 307 is the exclusive authority for a county or counties to make policy decisions to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the level of an inland lake.
Midland and Gladwin counties have directed that all costs associated with the maintenance of the lake levels be paid by special assessments. The 2019 Lake Level Order also established and confirmed the Four Lakes Special Assessment District.
The Four Lakes Special Assessment District is a special purpose public body, and the Four Lakes Task Force is the county delegated authority, acting on behalf of the Four Lakes Special Assessment District.