Workshops to help local officials develop inland lake shoreline zoning

A new workshop will be held in northwest Michigan to help local officials design effective, efficient and enforceable shoreline protection zoning provisions.

Northwest Michigan is blessed with outstanding water resources that draw people to that part of the state. Inland lakes are an important part of that appeal; protecting their shorelines is vital to economic development and environmental protection.

Many communities in northwest Michigan seek to protect inland shorelines through local zoning standards. Those provisions often include special setbacks, required buffer strips, shoreline erosion control, impervious surface maximums, and other techniques. The goal, quite simply, is to maintain high water quality by reducing the amount of nutrients and sediment entering the lake.

To help communities develop effective, efficient and enforceable shoreline protection zoning standards, Michigan State University Extension and Networks Northwest are sponsoring an Introduction to Shoreline Zoning workshop in March. The same event will be held at two locations: Thursday, March 19 in Traverse City and Monday, March 30 in Manistee. Both workshops run from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

This program is designed to introduce planning and zoning officials to the tools, techniques and challenges associated with shoreline protection zoning standards.

The workshops will cover:

  • How to assess the situation on your inland lakes
  • Maps and data resources
  • Master Plan goals and objectives for shoreline protection
  • How to use an aerial photo to identify problem areas
  • Zoning ordinance options for setbacks, buffer strips, shoreline erosion control structures, lot area coverage, and site plan review
  • Practical considerations: what an ordinance can and can’t do, trade-offs and enforcement challenges
  • How shoreline regulation fits with voluntary approaches

Developing shoreline zoning standards is a significant challenge – every community’s land lake shoreline issues are a little bit different. On some lakes, shoreline erosion and sea walls are the biggest challenge, while on others loss of natural vegetation greenbelts is the most significant concern.  It is a very common to adopt standards from a neighboring community, which makes matters worse by applying standards that may not address local concerns or be enforceable with available resources.

One of the most important first steps for developing shoreline protection standards is to do an assessment of the existing situation. Understanding the specific challenges in your community is a prerequisite to developing effective regulations.

Additional information about these events and how to register is available from Networks Northwest.

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