Keweenaw County Zoning Ordinance update progresses
By Michele Anderson
EAGLE RIVER -- The Keweenaw County Planning/Zoning (P/Z) Commission has been making progress with their update of the County's 1975 Zoning Ordinance, thanks to
the expertise of Mark Wyckoff of Planning and Zoning Center, Inc., Lansing.
The Commission now plans to share with county and township officials, and the
public, the fruits of recent work sessions with Wyckoff, Michigan's foremost
expert on zoning issues.
Wyckoff's assistance to the Commission is funded by a grant from the Coastal Zone Management Program of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
At the May 13 work session in the Houghton Township Hall in Eagle River, Mark
Wyckoff of Planning and Zoning Center, Inc., Lansing, addresses members of
the Keweenaw County Planning/Zoning Commission (pictured at the table, clockwise
from left): Al Gunnari, County Board of Commissioners representative; Jon Soper,
secretary; Janet Shea, vice-chair; Fred Gerhart; Richard Probst, Jr., chairman;
Kathy McEvers; and John Parsons. (Photo © 2005 Michele Anderson)
At his most recent work session with the P/Z Commission on May 11, 2005, Wyckoff said he had sent the MDEQ a required quarterly report on the Keweenaw County Zoning Ordinance update and had talked to the grant officers on the phone about the progress.
"They are ecstatic with the work that you've done so far," Wyckoff told the P/Z Commissioners.
He noted the zoning ordinance update is on time according to the grant requirements, although the status of the work is a bit behind
the point where he would like to be. Wyckoff is presently working on three zoning ordinances.
"These last two months have been the most challenging for me in the last 10 years," he said.
Wyckoff, who has taught in the School of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture at Michigan State University, specializes in zoning, land use law, environmental protection, growth management and intergovernmental planning.
The Planning/Zoning Commission should be finished with their review of the updated ordinance by Sept. 9,
2005, when a preliminary draft should be posted on the Internet. A complete draft of the new ordinance will be available from Wyckoff by Dec. 31. 2005. As soon as possible after that date, the Commission is required to hold one public hearing, which Wyckoff will attend.
At the May 11 work session Wyckoff advised informing township supervisors, county commissioners and large landowners about the
current status of the Zoning Ordinance update.
"Everyone's hearing how hard you're working," Wyckoff said, "but they haven't seen anything."
Noting also that some issues have come up that might require map changes as well as text changes, Wyckoff indicated the P/Z commissioners should meet with these officials and landowners within the next two months -- before Wyckoff's next visit, scheduled for Aug. 3, 2005.
During the Keweenaw County Planning/Zoning Commission's May 11 work session with Mark Wyckoff, right, Grant Township residents Anita and Paul
Campbell, standing left, and Commission Vice-Chair Janet Shea discuss various zoning districts on the Keweenaw County Zoning Map. The meeting was held in the Houghton Township Hall in Eagle River.
(Photo © 2005 Michele Anderson)
Janet Shea, P/Z vice chair, said the commissioners plan to invite these officials and landowners to their June 28, 2005, meeting -- a regular monthly meeting which is open to the public.
"We're pretty well done with the setback guidelines and the use classes," Shea
said.* "Our next task is going to be to look at the procedure sections."
Procedures include such items as zoning administration, site plans and enforcement, Shea explained.
Wyckoff's Aug. 3 work session with the P/Z Commission is also open to the public.
"We encourage everybody to come," Shea said.
Wyckoff said the public needs to know that the P/Z Commission is moving at a deliberate speed and not trying to rush the process.
"They're having a lot of good dialogue on important issues because they know this is the first significant revision to the Ordinance in 30 years," he noted.
In 1978 statute changes were made to the County Zoning Act, but they were not incorporated into Keweenaw County's 1975 Ordinance, even though county officials made sure they were followed, Wyckoff explained. As an example, the present Ordinance doesn't reflect such statutory requirements as site plan review, special land uses and public hearing requirements.
From tourist service establishments to mobile homes, the P/Z commissioners have discussed definitions and examples of uses and the zoning districts in which the uses would be
appropriate.* They are working to make the new zoning ordinance suitable to the needs of Keweenaw County, whose economy is based largely on
tourism, forestry and second-home communities.
This effort was evident in a discussion of appropriate zoning for waterfront sales and services.
Paul Campbell, Grant Township resident, asked how charter fishing boats should be included in the zoning. After some discussion on the locations of existing charter fishing businesses, P/Z commissioners asked Wyckoff to assist them in determining the appropriate zoning. Wyckoff plans to investigate this issue and make a recommendation to the commissioners at his next meeting with them (Aug. 3).
Another discussion at the May 11 work session dealt with recreational vehicles (RVs), since the current Zoning Ordinance allows occupancy of an
RV only in a designated RV park. RVs had been a topic of discussion at the March 29 and April 26, 2005, P/Z meetings.
At the April meeting, an RV was defined as "a vehicular-type portable structure without permanent foundation that can be towed, hauled, or driven and is primarily designed as a temporary living accommodation for recreational and camping purposes." This definition does not include a mobile home used as a permanent dwelling, residence or living quarters.
After a discussion on where and for how long an RV may be parked, the P/Z Commission decided at the April meeting that RV parking outside an established RV park should be limited to 10 days, after which the property owners would be subject to a daily fine.
Wyckoff will assist the Commission with possible wording on RVs for the new ordinance. He advised them that any new requirements must be easily administered and enforced and that township ordinances can deal with RV nuisance problems.
The Zoning Ordinance update is intended to make the ordinance consistent with
the County's "Blueprint for Tomorrow" Land Use Plan, recommended by the Keweenaw
County Board of Commissioners and adopted by the Keweenaw County Planning/Zoning Commission
in December 2002. The plan and future land use map (which is not the same as the
zoning map) are available online on the WPPDR Web site
The County Land Use Plan was the result of grassroots efforts by five volunteer township land use planning committees
who worked with the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WPPDR).
Beginning in the fall of 2000, the committee members collected and analyzed data on their townships for incorporation
into the plan. WPPDR's assistance was funded by a $75,000 Kellogg grant from People and Land through the Keweenaw Community Foundation.**
The Keweenaw County P/Z Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 31, following a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on a request for a special
use* in a Resort Residential (RR) district.
* At their Apr. 26, 2005, meeting the P/Z Commission defined both "use" and "special use" as follows:
Use -- The purpose or activity for which the land or the building thereon is intended, arranged, or designed or for which it is occupied or maintained.
Use, Special -- Uses of such variable nature as to make control by rigid pre-regulation impractical. After due consideration in each case by the Board of County Commissioners, after receiving the report and recommendations of the Planning Commission relative to the impact of such use upon neighboring land, and of the public need for the particular use at the particular location, such "Special Use" may or may not be granted by the Board of County Commissioners.
These "use definitions" are unchanged from the existing zoning ordinance.
** For background on the Keweenaw County Zoning Ordinance
update, the County Land Use Plan and the MDEQ grant, see our Dec. 10,
2003, article, "From
land use planning to zoning: Keweenaw's progress." Another
version of this article appeared in Superior Vision, newsletter of
the Lake Superior Alliance, Winter/Spring
For more background documents related to the Keweenaw County Zoning
Ordinance update, visit the Keweenaw
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on this article.
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