Keweenaw County Zoning & Construction Codes Department
Zoning & Construction Contacts
Permit Clerk - Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing
Monday - Friday 9:00 A.M.- 4:00 P.M.
Closed Legal Holidays
Soil Erosion & Sedimentation Officer
5095 Fourth Street
Eagle River, MI 49950
906 337-3471 [Phone]
906 337-2253 [FAX]
Dan Kilpela, Alternate
906 231-0589 [Cell]
Other Permit Contacts
Wetland & Critical Dunes, High Risk Erosion, Lakes & Streams
On-Site Sewage and/or Water Supply Systems
Driveway/Culvert for Keweenaw County Roads
Keweenaw County Road Commission
120 Shop Street
Mohawk, MI 49950
906 337-1610 [Phone]
Driveway/Culvert for Federal/State Roads (US-41 and M-26)
Contractor's Affidavit - if required
The zoning ordinance is administered by the Zoning Administrator who is appointed by the County Board of Commissioners and serves at its discretion.
The Zoning and Construction Codes Department (ZCCD) is responsible for the daily interpretation of the zoning laws. (See Zoning Ordinance Section 18.5 for more detail.) It is our intention to provide consistent interpretations and non-prejudicial decisions. While the zoning ordinance attempts to be crystal clear on every conceivable application, the reality is that we continue to encounter new uses and questions not addressed in the ordinance.
The ZCCD recognizes that many citizens may be basing large monetary decisions on our response to their inquiries. We owe it to our customers to provide accurate information. While the ZCCD tries to be quickly responsive to questions asked by the public and businesses, please bear in mind that an immediate response may not be possible in all circumstances. Some questions require extensive property and zoning ordinance research. In zoning, even the simplest of questions sometimes require a lengthy response if it is to be concise.
Many of the most frequently asked questions the public has about zoning are addressed on this web site; however, we encourage your questions by telephone or e-mail to email@example.com.
The first key document is the Keweenaw County Zoning Ordinance.
For current zoning Issues or pending ordinance amendments, check the Planning Commission Minutes.
The second key document is the Zoning Map. Determine zoning district by finding your property on the Keweenaw County Zoning Map. Use the color coded legend to determine the Zoning District for the property in which construction is to take place. You can also call the ZCCD for information.The up-to-date certified map is maintained in the ZCCD, Keweenaw County Courthouse, 5095 4th Street, Eagle River, Michigan 49950.
Eagle Harbor Township has its own separate zoning districts. Please refer to Eagle Harbor's ordinance and maps.
Archived/Past Zoning Ordinances:
Archived/Past Zoning Maps:
Find your Parcel Identification (PID) #
For the staff to be of help to you, or for you to find some of your own answers pertaining to zoning on a piece of property. This number is listed on your annual property tax bill and starts with "42."
General township, section, range information is on the WUPPDR website at Keweenaw County Map Viewer.
Determine Zoning District Setbacks
To determine setbacks (the minimum distance new construction or principal structure is to be from lot lines), minimum lot width, maximum lot coverage, maximum height of structures, see Zoning Ordinance Article 5, Table 5-1, 5-2 or 5-3.
For Accessory Structure Requirements, see Zoning Ordinance Article 7, Table 7-1.
The Permit Process
Permits are required for many improvement and construction projects for commercial and residential properties. You are required by law to get permits for construction in Keweenaw County whether you’re making repairs yourself or hiring a contractor. You’re responsible for finding out if you need permits -- and getting them before you start work. If you fail to obtain the proper permit before work begins, you can get fined.
Although no Building Permit is required for accessory structures of 200 sq.ft. or less, a Zoning Permit is still required.
All commercial structures and residential structures over 3,500 sq.ft. shall have a set of plans stamped by an engineer or architect licensed in the State of Michigan. All other plans may be self prepared.
Barrier Free (handicap) design requirements must be met for all new commercial structures and additions/renovations.
Obtain your permit applications online
Use our new, easy-to-use on-line forms. Print and fill in all your information, any time, day or night. Bring it, along with your site plan and any other required information, and your permit fee payment to the ZCCD, 5095 4th Street, Eagle River, Michigan.
You can also obtain forms from the ZCCD, complete them, and mail or bring them to the ZCCD.
Please refer to the Application Process Flowchart for a quick overview of the permit process.
Step 1 - Zoning Permit Application (No fee required)
A Zoning Permit is required for:
All new construction, alteration of building, additions and decks.
Any change of building use. Example: changing a house to an office or gift shop.
An approved Zoning Permit must be issued prior to applying for a Building Permit. An approved Zoning Permit is required for all work and before any work begins.
Before you submit your zoning/building permit application:
Find out if you need issuance of a 911 new address.
If you do, submit a completed request to the 911 MSAG Coordinator, 5095 4th Street, Eagle River, MI 49950. Only new structures on a vacant parcel require a new 911 address.
Zoning Permit applications must include:
Site Plan (Size and location of structures, existing and proposed; septic system and water well on property; distance of all structures to property lines and street right-of-ways. Lot lines must be clearly marked on the site for inspection. Please note that to expedite the application process, a good site plan and clearly marked site is needed. To complete a plat drawing, follow the instructions, 12 Steps to Showing Improvements on a Plat.
Drawings showing the front and side elevations of the proposed structure are also required.
All structures are required to be 75 feet from high water mark on any lake front or river front, except for zoning districts RS-1. High water mark is defined as where the vegetation starts or ends, or where the waves on the body of water reach on land at their highest point.
A minimum lot size for Agricultural Zoning District is five (5) acres.
NOTE: All new construction requires a valid well and septic permit or existing well and septic prior to granting a zoning permit.
If you are submitting a large-scale project such as construction of a new residential or office building, Schedule a Preliminary Design Review Meeting. The meeting provides applicants with a preliminary review of their building plans prior to filing.
Plan Submittal: When you have completed your Zoning Permit application and plans, go to the ZCCD. We will review your application for all necessary signatures and completeness. The review time for a permit depends on the complexity, scope of work and number of disciplines that must be involved.
To Avoid Delays in processing your Zoning and Building Permits:
1. Make sure permit is complete and signed.
2. Please make sure that your survey or scale drawing shows the location of the dwelling on the lot or parcel, including the parcel dimensions, location of roads, location and dimensions of both existing and proposed structures and the distance between lot lines and all structures (setbacks).
Step 2 - Building Permit Application (fees apply)
Complete your Building Permit application, as described above.
After you complete and file your application, it must be reviewed by all of the relevant disciplines, who will approve- or put a hold on the application so you can make corrections in response to written comments. Final Building Permit approval will not be given to any project until all disciplines and external agencies have approved and stamped the plans.
In addition to the typical review cycle, certain projects such as restaurants, excavation, work in historic districts, or work in public space, may include a review process by:
Office of Planning (Historic Preservation)
District Department of Transportation (Public Space)
Department of Health (Community Hygiene)
Department of the Environment (Soil Erosion)
Water and Sewer Authority
Building Permit Applications must include:
Floor Plan (all room sizes, door and window sizes, foundation type, and typical cross-section details from foundation to roof with dimensions. Include a data sheet from the manufacturer for roof trusses, or the design and designing load for rafters).
Specifications (size, type, quality and grade of materials to be used. Applicants for mobile/modular homes shall be accompanied with a cop of the manufacturer's recommendation for installation/anchorage, "data sheet" for the home, and an elevation cross-section of typical wall and roof construction).
The Building Permit will be issued after the Final Application Review has been completed. Allow five (5) business days if the application is accompanied with proper documentation, including a Contractor's Certificate, if required.
Applications for Electrical, Mechanical and Plumbing permits may be delayed until just prior to that phase of work. Contact 906 337-3471, ZCCD, Keweenaw County Courthouse.
Expiration of Permits
Building permits expire after six (6) months if work is not commenced.
Electrical, Mechanical and Plumbing permits expire after six (6) months if work has not commenced.
Step 3 - Inspections
Requests for building inspections require at least 72 hours notice.
There are two categories inspections related to permits:
Building inspections, which include plumbing, electrical, fire and construction inspections, assure the building has been constructed in accordance with the building code and approved plans.
Certificate of Occupancy
Certificate of Occupancy inspections, related to the use of the building, is required for occupancy of all buildings except single-family homes, individual units in an apartment building and individual suites in an office building do not require Certificates of Occupancy.
A Certificate of Occupancy is a document that certifies that the use of a building complies with zoning regulations and building codes. A new Certificate of Occupancy is required when new construction or alteration has occurred—or there have been changes in:
You must get a Certificate of Occupancy before occupation and use of the building. The certificate must be posted onsite. This certificate will be issued when building is completed and all final inspection reports have been forwarded to Philippe Arend, 6415 Five Mile Point Road, Allouez, MI 49805.
Permits: Laws and Regulations
2007 Keweenaw County Zoning Ordinance
2003 Michigan Building Code/Incorporating the National Building Code
Act 347 Soil Erosion & Sedimentation Control
Act 245 of 1970 Great Lakes Shorelands Management Act
Act 222 of 1976 Sand Dune Protection & Management Act
National Electrical Code
State of Michigan Plumbing Code
State of Michigan Mechanical Code
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I get a contractor to do my work? Who's responsible then?
It is ultimately the property owner's responsibility to get the permit. The responsibility for applying for the permit is a decision made between the homeowner and the contractor. It is not uncommon for an individual homeowner to come in to get a permit for work by a contractor.
What types of work do not require a building permit?
Caulking, patching, and plaster repair
Installation of cabinets and architectural millwork
Installation of window screens and storm windows
Repair of existing fences with like materials
Retaining walls, 18 inches (0.46m) or less in height
Construction of garden storage sheds 200 square feet or less
Replacement of the following materials:
Non-rated windows and doors
Roofing and coping
Gutters and downspouts
Private sidewalks and driveways
Non-rated suspended ceiling tile
Sanitary venting piping
Sanitary drainage system piping
Sanitary venting piping
Hydraulic system piping
Duct work, in non-hazardous and commercial kitchen exhaust systems
What does a building permit allow?
A building permit is an authorization to build according to a specific scope of work, including approved plans. Any modification of permit scope or approved plans must be specifically approved.
A building permit issued by the Building Inspector does NOT give you the authority to:
Build in or occupy public space
Occupy your building after construction. (You must get a Certificate of Occupancy before you open your business or occupy your commercial building.)
What are the uses allowed on my property?
Uses allowed in each zoning district are outlined in Article IV, Table 4-1 and Table 4-2 of the County Zoning Ordinance. While the many uses are too numerous to list here, you may either stop by our office to review the lists of uses or view them online.
I don't see the use I want on my property listed in the County zoning ordinance. What do I need to do?
It is the job of the Zoning Administrator to interpret the zoning ordinance. You should contact the ZCCD to discuss your proposed use. In many instances, if a use is not listed within a zoning district it is inferred that that use is not allowed within that district, particularly if that use is listed in another category. In some rare cases, the Board of Zoning Appeals determines if a use is appropriate within a zoning district.
What are the zoning categories in Keweenaw County?
The following zoning districts are explained in Section IV of the Keweenaw County Zoning Ordinance.
Conservation Environmental Protection
Single Family Residential
Two-Family & Multi-Family Residential
Does Keweenaw County regulate the zoning in the Townships?
The Keweenaw County Zoning Ordinance regulates zoning in Grant, Sherman, Houghton, Allouez Townships and Ahmeek Village. Eagle Harbor Township has its own zoning regulations. You should contact the township office for information about properties that are in their municipal boundaries.
What are "setbacks"?
Setbacks are the distances required between structures or uses and property lines. These distances vary within each zoning district. Variances can be made to some setbacks by appeal to the Zoning Administrator or the Board of Zoning Board of Appeals.
How do I apply for a zoning variance for my property?
Contact our office by telephone or e-mail for the appropriate forms. You can download the forms online. Also, these forms can be mailed or faxed to you. The forms must be completed in detail so that all of the legal requirements are met to schedule variance hearings.
What is a "utility easement"?
Utility easements are encountered on many properties in the County which have been created by the subdivision process. Generally these easements are there to accommodate the placement of water, sewer, gas or communication lines or to allow for the free flow of storm water across properties so it is properly managed. No permanent structure is allowed in any utility easement because of the potential that storm water could be misdirected to affect another person's property or disturb the overall stormwater plan for the area. The County also maintains the legal right to enter a utility easement area in case any underground utility requires service.
I want to operate a business from my home. What permits do I need?
First, you should consult with the Health Department and/or other agencies, depending on the type and size operation you intend. Home Occupations are permitted as a Conditional Use (RC) in AG, CE, R-1, R-2, RR, RS-1, RS-2, and B1 Zoning Districts. Please refer to the Zoning Ordinance, Article X, Section 10.12.18 regarding specific requirements and restrictions. The ZCCD will require more detail on other types of business operations to determine if they are permitted in specific zoning categories so it is best to contact them for assistance. Bear in mind that there are distinctly different residential and business zoning categories so there is legislative intent to keep the two uses separate.
I intend to start a new business. Where do I find information on where I can locate it? What permits do I need?
You can research the zoning ordinance and map to find what uses are permitted in each district. If you have additional questions, the ZCCD can tell you which zoning districts are appropriate for the type of business you are starting or re-locating and can give you information regarding where each of these zoning districts are in the County. You can also contact the offices of the five townships within Keweenaw County to determine the opportunities within each of those townships. You can also request information on building permits for new structures or "Change of Use" permits if you are moving into an existing storefront or office space.
What are the regulations on fences and walls?
Fences and walls do not need to meet the setback and/or minimum building line requirements; however, you should remember that if you place a fence or wall in a utility easement and it has to be removed, it must be done so at the owner's expense. Additionally, fences, walls, and plantings on corner lots cannot interfere with traffic visibility. See Zoning Ordinance, Article XV, Section 15.6. We urge you to contact your service utility companies before setting any footers or posts to assure that you do not strike an underground utility line. Non-living fences over six (6) feet require a zoning and building permit.
What are the County sign regulations?
The numerous requirements for business signs are contained in Article XVI of the Zoning Ordinance; they vary for on-premises and off-premises businesses. Very few signs do not require zoning certificates so it is best to check with ZCCD for your specific needs.
What is the ZCCD process for handling violations?
Complaints are taken in person at the ZCCD, or by filling out the appropriate online form.
If the complaint proves to be a violation of the zoning ordinance, the Zoning Administrator or Building Inspector may discuss it on-site with the property owner. If the complaint is not resolved at that initial point of contact then the procedures in Article XXI of the Zoning Ordinance are followed.
How can I get my property re-zoned?
There are two methods available to a property owner seeking a rezoning. The first is called a "piecemeal" or "spot" rezoning where only a single property is considered. The Board of County Commissioners makes the determination on piecemeal rezonings; however applicants must be able to satisfactorily prove that there has been a substantial change to the neighborhood in which the property is located in or that a mistake was made in the initial zoning of the property.
The rezoning technique most frequently used for rezonings is through the County Comprehensive Plan Review process which occurs every five years. Property owners seeking a rezoning through the Comprehensive Plan process should contact the Planning Commission.
I want to subdivide my property. Where do I start?
You must first determine the potential for subdividing your property. Your township supervisor or assessor has final approval on any land split. Lot yield, if any, is determined by the property's zoning classification. In many instances, parcels which were created by a previous subdivision plan may not be further subdivided regardless of the lot size. The ZCCD can help you determine your zoning category and give you the basics on lot yield in each category.
Does zoning address issues like flood plains and streams?
No, zoning is strictly a matter of land use. However, there are several county regulations governing the use of environmentally sensitive areas. For these regulations you should research the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
How many dogs, cats, lamas, etc. can I keep on my property?
Parts of Keweenaw County are zoned "Agricultural" and the maintenance of herds of farm animals in these areas is a priority. See Article IV, Table 4-1, " "Agricultural Service Establishments", and "Commercial Agriculture or Horticulture" for uses specific to each zoning district. The keeping of pets is considered to be an accessory use to a dwelling.
What if my neighbor's grass is too high?
Grass and weed complaints are not a zoning issue. To report tall grass or weeds, call the appropriate Township office and inquire as to whether or not they have an ordinance covering noxious weed control.
Where are Mobile Homes Permitted?
While there are individual mobile homes in Keweenaw County, most of these parks or individual units are non-conforming, meaning they pre-date the establishment of zoning in the County. Article IV, "Mobile Home Park and Manufactured Housing Community" addresses proposed mobile home parks and manufactured housing communities. Also, Article IV "Single Family Dwelling" addresses mobile or manufactured homes on an individual lot.
What are the penalties for zoning violations?
Keweenaw County Ordinance 2007-3, Municipal Civil Infraction Ordinance, and other applicable laws apply, as indicated in Article XXI of the Zoning Ordinance. If the ZCCD issues a Civil Infraction for a zoning violation, Section 21.7, Schedule of Fines, applies.
It is important to note that a fine may be imposed for each day a violation exists and that each day a violation exists is a separate offense. The failure to correct a violation after expiration of the time period for correction stated is a separate offense.
Posted January 13, 2022
Posted December 16, 2021