Setback from OHWM


In single family residential areas, zoning ordinances will require shoreline setbacks of at least 50 feet from the High Water Elevation for all principle and accessory structures except for docks, shoreline protection structures, allowed viewing platforms, and stairs to the lake. Shoreline setbacks of 100' will be required when, within 500' feet of the lake, average slopes of the waterfront parcel are greater than 12%, impervious surface coverage is greater than 15%, and/or poor drainage conditions exist.

Reasons for Recommendation

Implementing shoreline setbacks for structures reduces impervious surface quantities near the lake and provides greater opportunity for stormwater runoff to percolate before reaching the lake. Based on calculations from the previous shoreline zoning study by MSU Extension, a shoreline setback of 50' in combination with a greenbelt will allow all stormwater runoff to percolate prior to reaching the lake on well drained, gently sloped sites with impervious surface coverage of 15% or less. When site conditions are less conducive to stormwater percolation, the larger 100' setback allows greater distance/time for percolation to occur.


7 out of 7 Township Zoning Ordinances around the Lake currently have shoreline setbacks that meet or exceed the recommended 50' setback standard - Bay Township, Charlevoix Township, Evangeline Township, Eveline Township, Hayes Township, Marion Township, South Arm Township.

Modification is needed in most cases to meet the additional setback standards for lots with steep slopes listed above.

Jurisdictions shaded green on the map below meet or exceed the recommended standard.