Green Corridor

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As discussed with the Steering Committee, we have revised the “Green Corridor” zoning district into a “Green Corridor Commercial” (C-GC) district. The district largely makes the C-G district obsolete, so we have removed that district, and instead provided the C-GC district with standards for properties that abut Red Arrow Highway and standards for properties that don’t. 


The Discussion Draft includes an updated and revised sign ordinance that strives to meet the requirement of the Reid v Gilbert US Supreme Court Case that all local sign ordinances be “content neutral.” 

The Sign Ordinance is summarized in two charts, on pages 8-18 and 8-19. Notable provisions include: 

  • A prohibition on electronic message signs. 
  • A prohibition on erecting signs without the permission of the property owner. 
  • A prohibition on billboards, except where State regulations supercede the zoning ordinance. 
  • Reductions in the allowable size of signs on commercial properties, compared to the current Ordinance. 

Woodlands Protection

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In response to the Steering Committee’s comments, we have revised the requirements for Woodlands Protection for single family homes, in Section 6.08.F of the new draft. The standards are as follows:

  • Single family and agricultural lot owners must receive a tree removal permit prior to taking down a tree, but are exempt from the required fees and need not get a survey of the species of the trees in their initial submittal – they only need to count them.
  • Single family and agricultural lot owners may remove up to 80% of the trees over 8 inches DBH on their lot. If anything less than 80% of trees will be removed, the permit shall be issued.
  • If more than 80% of the trees will be removed, the Zoning Administrator will ask for a survey of the species of trees to be removed. If, after taking the removable trees out of the count, the percentage of trees to be removed in less than 80%, the permit shall be issued.
  • If, even with removable trees taken out of the count, the percentage is still over 80%, then replacement trees shall be required, then the Zoning Administrator shall require all trees about the 80% threshold to be replaced.
  • For all lots that have obtained a tree removal permit, the original tree list shall be kept on file at the Township. For all subsequent tree removal applications, the percentage of trees to be removed shall be calculated out of the original number of trees.
  • This will prevent the slow clearcutting of a property through multiple tree removal permit applications.

While this is somewhat complex for the Township, it should actually be simple for property owners in the vast majority of cases. All they need to do is count the trees and show they will be removing less than 80%.

 


Lodging, Homestays, and Vacation Rentals

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In response to the Steering Committee’s comments, we have developed a “spectrum” of permitted lodging in the Township, and grouped all of the uses together in Section 9.04 of the new draft. The definitions are also grouped together, in Article 2. 

The lodging uses are as follows: 

Hotels/Motels: 

Definition (Hotel): A building occupied as a more or less temporary abiding place for individuals who are lodged, with or without meals, in rooms consisting of a minimum of one bedroom and a bath, occupied for hire, and which typically provides hotel services such as maid service, the furnishing and laundering of linens, telephone and desk service, the use of furniture, a dining room and meeting rooms. 

Definition (Motel): A building or group of buildings occupied as a more or less temporary abiding place for individuals who are lodged with or without meals in rooms consisting of a minimum of a bedroom and bath, occupied for hire, in which provision is not usually made for cooking within the rooms, and which provides customary motel services such as maid service, linen service, telephone and/or desk service, and the use of furniture. Motels typically provide exterior entrances and on-site parking for each unit. A motel may also include conference room or banquet facilities, an attached dining room, and/or an unattached standard restaurant. 

Permitted In: C-IG 

Special Use In: C-GC, C-S, C-L, C-H, C-U 

Key Regulations: Minimum room size of 250 feet 

Bed and Breakfast: 

Definition: A dwelling unit where the owners or live-in operators provide or offer overnight accommodations for temporary guests for compensation, including provisions for a morning meal for overnight guests only. In order to be considered a Bed-and-Breakfast, a facility must have at least three separate guest rooms, in addition to the rooms occupied by the owners or 2 live-in operators. Anything with fewer than three separate guest rooms shall be considered a Home Stay. 

Permitted In: None 

Special Use In: AG, R-1, R-1-W, R-2, R-3, R-4, C-GC, C-IG, C-S, C-H, C-L, and C-U 

Key Regulations: Max units depending on lot size, requirement that the house is the principal residence of the owner. 

Campground: 

Definition: A facility for overnight stays in non-permanent structures, cabins, or recreational vehicles. 

Permitted In: None 

Special Use In: AG, R-1, R-1-W, R-2, R-3, R-4, C-GC, and C-IG 

Key Regulations: Setbacks, water connections, amenities, compliance with State law. 

Detached Unit Resort: 

Definition: A facility consisting of a number of detached dwelling units, as well as accessory uses such as an office or recreational facilities, where the dwelling units are offered for temporary accommodations and are not available for permanent residency or separate ownership from the overall facility. 

Permitted In: C-GC and C-IG. 

Special Use In: AG, R-1, R-1-W, R-2, and R-3. 

Key Regulations: Water connections required, subject to design standards for Multiple Family. 

Vacation Rental: 

Definition: A dwelling unit rented out in its entirety (i.e. the owners or occupants are not at home) for periods of one month or less at a time to individuals or groups visiting the Township, where there is no full-time employed staff and no meal service. 

Permitted In: AG, R-1, R-1-W, R-2, R-3, R-4, C-GC, C-S, C-H, C-L, and C-U 

Special Use In: C-IG

Key Regulations: Registry with Township required. 

Home Stay:

Definition: A dwelling unit where the owners provide or offer overnight accommodations for temporary guests for compensation, without formal, paid provision of any meal for the guests within the dwelling unit and where the owner or occupant resides in the dwelling unit at the same time the guests are residing there. A dwelling unit shall also be considered a Home Stay if it meets the definition of Bed and Breakfast but contains fewer than three guest rooms. A dwelling unit shall be considered a Vacation Rental and not a Home Stay if the owner or occupant does not reside in the dwelling unit while the guests are residing there. 

Permitted In: All districts except C-IG, M, and RE. 

Special Use In: None 

Key Regulations: No approval required, provided the owner resides in the home while the guests are there. If the owner is not home, then it is considered a Vacation Rental, and must be registered with the Township. 


Lake Michigan Waterfront Properties

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The Discussion Draft includes a new zoning district – R-1-W – that applies to all properties that abut Lake Michigan. The district includes the following special provisions. In all other aspects, the district is identical to the R-1 district. 

  • All setbacks from Lake Michigan are measured from the Regulatory Ordinary High Water Mark, which defined by the State of Michigan as a line on the shore at 580.5 feet above sea level. The Township is planning a survey to determine the location of that line to ensure that the requirements of the Ordinance make sense with the situation on the ground. 
  • All structures are required to be set back at least 200 feet from the Regulatory Ordinary High Water Mark, or to the line halfway between the the Regulatory Ordinary High Water Mark and the road right-of-way at the front of the lot, whichever is smaller. Certain undesirable structures (hazardous materials storage, raised septic systems, etc) have larger setback requirements. 
  • Accessory structures located between the waterside wall of the principal building (i.e. the house) and the Regulatory Ordinary High Water Mark are restricted to no more than 400 square feet of area. 
  • Within 75 feet of the Regulatory Ordinary High Water Mark, a vegetative strip must be maintained. Fencing is prohibited in the vegetative strip. 
  • Viewshed protection triangles are required to be maintained, with no structure or landscaping over three feet in height. The triangle is defined by a line running at a 30 degree angle from the intersection of the side lot line and the required setback to the Regulatory Ordinary High Water Mark. 
  • For properties on State-designated Critical Dunes, evidence of State approval must be presented to the Township prior to the issuance of a building permit. 
  • For properties on other dunes, no more than 40% of the dune may be covered in structures or pavement, and no more than 20% may be covered by any single building. No buildings are permitted between the crest of the dune and Lake Michigan. 
  • Consistent with State statute and case law, beach access cannot be restricted below the Natural Ordinary High Water Mark, which is most simply described as the edge of vegetation. 

The Discussion Draft includes regulations on keeping animals on certain properties in the Township. 

  • The Ordinance classifies animals as “pets”, “domestic livestock”, “commercial livestock”, and “exotic or wild.” 
  • Pets may be kept on any lot. In AG districts, the number of pets are unlimited. In other districts, the number of pets is restricted to five, only three of which may be dogs. In some districts, properties can received Special Use Approval to be classified as kennels, and then are allowed more dogs. 
  • A permit is required to keep domestic livestock, and the regulations on different animals (cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, bees, chickens, etc) differ depending on the animal and the zoning district. 
  • Commercial livestock are permitted in the AG district only, and their owners must comply with the State’s Generally Accepted Agriculture and Management Practices (GAAMPs). 
  • Exotic and wild animals are prohibited in the Township. 

Mixed Use Community Center

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The Discussion Draft includes four new mixed-use zoning districts. All four are also subject to FormBased requirements.

  • C-S Sawyer Mixed Use. This district is intended to protect, preserve, and expand the historic Downtown Sawyer area.

  • C-H Harbert Mixed Use. This district is intended to create a high-quality, landscaped commercial and institutional center in Harbert.
  • C-L Lakeside Mixed Use. This district is intended to protect, preserve, and expand the historic Lakeside business district.
  • C-U Union Pier Mixed Use. This district is intended to protect, preserve, and expand the character of downtown Union Pier, at least the portion that is in Chikaming Township.