Boyne planners look at burdensome zoning language

lower lake drive web
Boyne City Planning Director Scott McPherson said the change will simply allow property owners to have more freedom and control over their land.


A confusing and contradictory piece of language in Boyne City’s zoning ordinance could soon be deleted.

The issue was raised to city planning staff regarding a rule which burdens off-the-water properties in five areas of the city’s three Waterfront Residential Districts with more than triple the required setback of property actually on the waterfront.


“It is my understanding that that 35 feet was primarily designed for waterfront protection,” Boyne City Planning Director Scott McPherson told the Boyne City Planning Commission at its Oct. 16 meeting…. “The other objectives to have that were to limit the density of the waterfront district.”

He added, “So, keeping that in mind, I thought perhaps the best approach was not to rezone those but just to put some language in the setback section of that ordinance that identifies those specific properties and relieves them from that 35-foot setback.”

McPherson said this will probably allow the properties to be more easily developed while still maintaining the density and other requirements of the Waterfront Residential District.

According to planning commission documents, “The proposed … amendment was requested of the planning commission by the zoning board of appeals … after the zoning board of appeals was unable to interpret the intent of the section due to the confusing and contradictory text. The amendment would not change how things were calculated regarding setbacks on public alleys—just eliminate bad language.”

The section to be deleted reads, “No rear yard or side yard setback is required where such property abuts a public alley, providing the accessory buildings in the rear yard shall meet the required setback.”

The affected areas include sections of John, Bay, Marshall, and lower Lake streets among others.

“A lot of those properties were made non-conforming with that 35-foot setback and the 10-foot setback would create more conforming properties,” McPherson said.

“And, the other kind of thing that affects these is a lot of these parcels in this area either are corner lots or through lots and the 35-foot setback is required on both sides of a through lot and on … a corner lot on both sides with right-of-ways.”

He added, “So, they would have two 35-foot setbacks. You got 70 feet eaten up on some of these properties.”

According to city officials, the proposed change would be a text amendment to the district and only the waterfront setback would change; all other requirements of the district would remain the same.

The new language to be added to section 5.60 E to Article V, reads, “Non-Waterfront Parcels: Parcels in the Waterfront Residential District that do not have waterfrontage shall have a minimum front yard setback of 10 feet.”

Planning commissioners discussed the proposed amendments and questioned potential infringement of road right-of-ways, what would happen with future construction of garages, and whether parcels would be altered into nonconformity.

McPherson said the change will simply allow property owners to have more freedom and control over their land.

The proposed change was approved by a 7-0 vote; Boyne City Planning Commissioners Aaron Place and Jason Biskner were absent.

A public hearing on the matter has been scheduled for 5 p.m. on Monday Nov. 20 at Boyne City Hall, 319 North Lake St.