Lake House Zoning Considerations - featured image

Before you can begin construction of your new lake house, you must apply for a building permit. The requirements for the building permit include submitting a site plan and having a land use permit. Both of which require complying with local zoning ordinances.

It is important to understand that zoning ordinances vary by each township, and their interpretation can be difficult. This is why it is essential to thoroughly research the ordinances and anticipate how they may apply to your situation. Also, note that zoning may apply differently to existing structures versus new construction.

Building a waterfront or lakeshore home means paying particular attention to specific zoning rules governing bodies of water, streams, and wetlands. This is important to understand before applying for site plan and building permits. Lakeshore Custom Homes has years of experience and we can guide you through this process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Why Zoning?

Zoning ordinances are intended to regulate land use for the greater good of the community.

Local zoning ordinances define what use is allowable. Zoning laws also help assure that homes will be built in compliance with the Michigan State Construction Code and the Department of Public Health.

Zoning defines what uses are approved and describes non-buildable areas and non-conforming uses.

Understanding the zoning for a parcel of land is essential, especially before purchasing the land, so your intended use doesn’t conflict with the ordinance. Of course, you can petition for a variance, but that can be challenging.

Examples of zoning that affects building a Lakehouse

  • Setbacks are common requirements for all new home construction, but bodies of water create special rules that must be factored into your site design.
  • Townships, such as Frankfort, Empire, Leland, or Suttons Bay for example, with Lake Michigan frontage will also define the Waterfront Setback Datum.
  • Zoning ordinances usually regulate boat houses. For example, Glen Arbor township restricts the number of stories and height of boathouses but makes no setback restrictions regarding shorelines.
  • Docks, shoreline retaining walls, and dredging also fall under zoning ordinances.
  • Lake Access easement is another consideration when planning to build a lakefront home. Most townships outline flood insurance requirements.
  • Lot coverage, or the amount of area that your home will occupy, is another definition that you need to be mindful of when planning your new home and any other structures. Sometimes lots, especially smaller ones, may not accommodate the floorplan that you have in mind.
  • Of special note to building in Northern Michigan are the Michigan Wetlands Protection Act, the Shorelands Protection and Management Act, and the Michigan Sand Dunes Protection and Management Act. We are well versed in complying with each of these and can advise you if your property is affected by these laws.

Lakeshore Custom Homes pays attention to all the details that make for an extraordinary home. Our attention to these details helps make your home-building experience less stressful and more enjoyable.

Please view our portfolio to see examples of some of the finest homes in Northern Michigan.

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