5095 4th Street
Eagle River, Michigan 49950


Keweenaw County Planning Commission
5095 4th Street
Eagle River, Michigan 49950

Commission Members:

John Parsons, Chairman
Barry Koljonen, Vice Chairman
Jim Vivian, County Commission Liaison
Steven Siira
Ned Huwatschek
Dan Steck
James LaMotte
Ann Gasperich, Zoning Administrator

Commission Meetings:

Eagle River Courthouse
5095 4th Street
Eagle River, Michigan 49950

Last Tuesday of each month, 4:00 pm

2019-2023 Keweenaw Recreation Plan

Keweenaw County Land Use Plan, "Blueprint for Tomorrow"
Draft: 01/06/2016

Keweenaw County Zoning Ordinance
11 MB - PDF Format

Keweenaw County Zoning Ordinance Table of Contents (by chapter)

Services Provided:

The commission provides a long-term perspective to problem identification and problem solving in county governments. Actions in connection with these duties are based on the comprehensive master plan. (Keweenaw County Land Use Plan, "Blueprint for Tomorrow")

  • Makes studies, investigations, and surveys relative to the economic, social, and physical development of the county.
  • Formulates plans and make recommendations for the most effective economic, social and physical development of the county.
  • Cooperates with all departments of state and federal governments and other public agencies concerned with programs directed toward the economic, social and physical development of the county and to seek the maximum coordination of the county programs of these agencies.
  • Consults with representatives of adjacent counties with respect to their planning so that conflicts in overall county plans may be avoided.
  • Acts on zoning requests and reviews proposed subdivisions.
  • Becomes an information resource for other units of government as a key device in carrying out some of the community plans.


Keweenaw County's Land Use Plan, "Blueprint for Tomorrow," was adopted in 2002 and is the County's master plan, stated in broad terms and goals, for physical development of the County. It was understood that values and goals would vary among and between the five Townships within the County. Therefore, each Township developed their own plans that were specifically tailored the needs of each community. Since zoning (the enforcement vehicle for planning) is done at the county level (with the exception of Eagle Harbor Township) these Township plans are included within the County's plan but are given precedence when making zoning decisions effecting that Township.

The County Zoning Ordinance, based upon the goals and objectives in the land use plan, was revised in 2006, the first revision since 1975. This also brought Keweenaw County into conformance with Michigan laws relating to planning and zoning.

What Is Planning?

The goal of planning is for diverse interests to come together and develop a shared vision for their community that will increase the public good. By regulating the design and placement of new developments, planning helps a community define those features it feels are important and build upon those features to create and maintain a distinctive sense of place. Planning can also preserve historic community structures; it generates pride in the community, in its sense of place, which adds to the public good. A plan:

  • Represents the views of all the stakeholders that make a up a community
  • Identifies community strengths and assets
  • Identifies community needs and concerns
  • Establishes goals for improving the community
  • Recommends specific recommendations to reach those goals
  • Provides a framework for zoning and other land use decisions

Zoning: The method used by communities to promote the compatibility of land uses by dividing tracts of land within the community into different districts or zones. Zoning ensures that a factory is not located in the middle of a residential neighborhood or that a bar is not located next to an elementary school.

Land Use: The manner in which a parcel of land is used or occupied.

Some of the issues a plan may address are:

  • Land uses that do not match existing zoning
  • Availability of and need for housing choices
  • New and appropriate businesses to the neighborhood
  • The need for mixed residential and commercial uses along busy corridors
  • A need for more sidewalks and bike paths
  • Preservation of the existing residential or historic character of the neighborhood
  • Enhanced streetscapes, parks, and other open civic spaces.

A plan proposes the future distribution, location, and variety of structures (or open space) in the community including residential, retail, office, industry, open space, and recreation space. The plan often serves as a tool for preserving and strengthening a neighborhood. It can also offer strategies for revitalizing a neighborhood in decline or, when appropriate, provide direction for building in a largely undeveloped area.

Simply preparing a plan in no way assures that it will be used. There is little value in having a plan if it is not referred to when zoning changes are requested, when capital improvement priorities are being established, and when other actions are being considered that affect patterns of land use and development.

Communities also need to have a regional context for planning. Many local plans include maps that seem to suggest that the community is a world unto itself, unconnected to other communities. Developments and land use changes beyond a community's boundaries can have a significant effect on what happens within that community. Therefore, it is important that local governments not feel compelled to limit the scope of planning to rigidly defined local government boundaries.

How Will a Plan Help My Community?

With or without planning, communities will change. Though planning is not necessary for communities to survive, change in a community without planning often happens in a haphazard fashion. Decisions are often made without concern for the relationship of one development to another. A developer might build in a part of the community that is improperly serviced by schools, streets or utilities.

  • Planning can provide a way to coordinate individual decisions and provide guidelines for the design of new developments so they will compliment the existing neighborhood character, rather than detract from one another. Planning can also provide facts on existing conditions and trends and it can evaluate each project in light of community objectives. It can even propose alternative projects that might better serve community needs.

    Character: The image and perception of a community as defined by its built environment, landscaping, natural features and open space, types and style of housing, and number and size of roads and sidewalks.
  • Planning protects natural and agricultural resources like wetlands and forests which provide important public services such as flood control, groundwater recharge, and oxygen, that would be difficult and expensive to replace if damaged. Protecting natural and agricultural resources from inappropriate development protects the public good.
  • Planning provides predictability regarding future development. It provides private landowners and developers with information about where and what type of development the community will allow, and what businesses are needed and encouraged. It provides a standard process which increases the consistency and the fairness of the development process. Treating private landowners fairly also serves to enhance the public good.
  • Planning saves money by preventing the expenditure of public resources on unneeded facilities through the community's Capital Improvement Program (CIP). It can help to organize new growth in more financially efficient ways. This helps keep property taxes low.

    Capital Improvement Program (CIP): A community’s plan for matching the cost of large-scale improvements- such as fixing roads, water and sewer mains- to anticipated revenues, such as taxes and bonds.
  • Planning promotes economic development by helping the community keep existing businesses and attract new ones. Planning information can help insure that economic growth matches the needs and resources of the community. Planning can also assist existing local businesses to locate proper facilities and prevent non-compatible land uses near existing businesses.
  • Planning can promote sustainable development to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • Planning helps protect private property rights and minimizes the negative impacts of new development. Without property planning, new land development can expose adjoining landowners to negative impacts and loss of land value. Even though property owners sometimes view land regulations, such as zoning, as an infringement upon their property rights, the purpose of such regulations is to protect them. Protecting property rights is part of protecting the public good.

For many communities, the questions may no longer be "Why plan?" It may be, "Can we afford not to?"



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