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DNR eliminates permit step for lakeshore property owners
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DNR eliminates permit step for lakeshore property owners

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Local property owners in desperate need of erosion control have been granted permission to begin repairs immediately instead of waiting through a lengthy permitting process.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources released a Great Lakes Emergency Erosion Control Self-Certification form for state residents living on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Green Bay. Homeowners who meet a series of professional standards are allowed to submit a one-page document with the understanding they will eventually apply for a proper work permit.

Due to near-record water levels, time is of the essence for many property owners.

“We have heard from homeowners up and down the shoreline that they are losing valuable real estate to erosion, and each day that passes is one step closer to catastrophe,” said Amanda Minks, wetland and waterway section chief at the DNR. “That is why we are providing this tool to speed up the process and get people the help they need.”

Kenosha is one of several communities along the Lake Michigan shoreline affected by severe erosion.

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A Somers property, previously located at 609 17th St., gained national attention as it dangled off the side of a Lake Michigan bluff just north of Carthage College. The three-bedroom home was recently razed, succumbing to its nearly two-year battle with erosion.

While the self-certification form allows property owners the opportunity to begin repairs quickly, it offers no financial relief in doing so. Lakefront revetment and seawall construction can be alarmingly expensive, with costs typically starting well into six figures.

“Unfortunately, our budgetary restraints don’t allow it,” Minks said. “If a federal emergency was declared, that could have some financial implications, but the DNR doesn’t direct them.”

The self-certification form (#3500-127) is available online at https://dnr.wi.gov. Homeowners should review, complete and submit the form to the email address provided. Once it is properly submitted, work may proceed provided it meets all of the necessary requirements.

A permit must be applied for within 18 months of completion.

“We certainly don’t want people to feel they need to wait to protect their property,” Minks said. “We’re trying to do what we can to help.”

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