Definitions From the Zoning Ordinance Pertaining to Flat River Lots
Flat River Ordinance Follows Definitions
Bluff: The top of a steep bank rising sharply from the water's edge.† If an existing flat area begins at the waterís edge before rising into a steep bank, the bluff setback does not apply.
Building height: The elevation measured from the average finished lot grade at the front of the building to the highest point of the roof.
Filtered view of river: Maintenance or establishment of woody vegetation of sufficient density to screen new development from the river, provide for stream bank stabilization and erosion control, serve as an aid to infiltration of surface runoff and provide cover to shade the water. It need not be so dense as to completely block the river view. It means no clear cutting.
Grade: As applicable to buildings, that surface of the earth or finished material located immediately adjacent to the structure.
Lot area: The total horizontal area included within lot lines. However, "lot area" shall not include land lying below the ordinary high water mark of a lake, river or pond which is not totally enclosed within the boundary lines of the lot. (Also see article V, section 201.503, Variances.) Where a front, rear or side lot line lies in part or in whole in a public right-of-way or private road easement, the lot area shall not include that part of the lot within said right-of-way or easement.
Lot, front line: That side of the lot abutting upon a public or private street right-of-way or abutting on a river or lake. In the case of a corner lot, either street right-of-way may be considered the front line of the lot, provided at least one driveway opening adjoins the street which is parallel to the front lot line and the official address of the lot is the street parallel to the front lot line.
Ordinary high watermark: The line between upland and bottomland which persists through successive changes in water levels, below which the presence and action of the water is so common or recurrent that the character of the land is marked distinctly from the upland and is apparent in the soil itself, the configuration of the surface of the soil and the vegetation. On an inland lake which has a level established by law, it means the high established level. Where water returns to its natural level as the result of the permanent removal or abandonment of an ordinary high water mark, it means the natural ordinary high water mark.
Permanent dock, stairway, boardwalk: A structure located within the FR District that is attached to the ground or riverbed and is not intended to be moved seasonally.
River access boardwalk: A permanent walkway constructed primarily of natural materials used to provide access to the river where a marshy area is present, and no other access point is available; which does not exceed four (4) feet in width nor does it exceed the length determined by the Zoning Administrator needed to reach the river's edge.
River access dock: A temporary or permanent appurtenance constructed primarily of natural materials which serves as a landing pier for boats and does not exceed four (4) feet in width, nor sixteen (16) feet in length along the water/bank edge with no more than four (4) feet extending over the water.
River access stairs: A permanent stairway constructed primarily of natural materials on steep slopes to the river where no other environmentally sound access is feasible; which does not cut into the stream bank; which does not exceed four (4) feet in width and allows transitional landings between stair sections.
River stairs transitional landing:† One or more horizontal areas not exceeding four (4) feet in width to connect sections of stairs for topography and safe stair step rise and run.
Setback: The minimum horizontal distance on a lot or parcel that a building or structure (or any portion thereof) situated thereon is required to be located from the front line, or if the lot or parcel abuts the Flat River or a lake, from the ordinary high water mark of the river, or measured from the outside edge of the building to the nearest point of intersection with the front line or ordinary high water mark of the river or lake.
Temporary dock: A landing for riparian access that is located within the FR District, not permanently attached to the riverbed and is intended to be moved seasonally.
A. Statement of Purpose and Description. The "FR" District as established to preserve, protect and enhance the river environment in a natural state for the use, and enjoyment of present and future generations, and to ensure that any development which may occur shall be done in an orderly manner consistent with the natural environment and aesthetic qualities of the stream by regulating the use of land along the waterway. This district consists of land lying within three hundred (300) feet from the ordinary high water mark on each side of and paralleling the Flat River.
The Flat River District is established as an overlay zoning district. Such district is construed as not to be a separate and distinct district, but a secondary district which overlays those parts of the following underlying districts: "R-A", "R-1", "R-2", "R-3", etc., which are adjacent to the Flat River. In all cases, applicants for building permits in the Flat River District must meet all requirements of the underlying district, and in addition, must conform to the additional provisions, requirements and restrictions of the Flat River District. Where there is conflict between other provisions of this Ordinance and those specifically applied to the Flat River District, the latter shall control.
B. Permitted Uses.
1. Single or two family dwellings as permitted in the underlying District in which the particular use is proposed.
2. Essential Services (See Section 4.11 [201.411]).
3. River Access Docks. Construction of docks along the Flat River is discouraged because of the visual impact to the Natural River and potential hazards to anglers and watercraft users. Vergennes Township regulates permanent structures on land within the Flat River District. Temporary structures in the river itself are also regulated by Vergennes Township with guidance from the Natural Rivers Program Administrator of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Permanent structures placed in the river itself are regulated by Vergennes Township with consultation and approval by the Michigan DEQ.
a. River Access Dock. One (1) dock per parcel containing a residence is permitted if necessary to provide safe and ecologically sound access for riparian landowners. A portion of the dock will be constructed within the setback from the river. Owner must obtain a zoning compliance permit from Vergennes Township prior to installation or construction, and may need a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality depending upon individual circumstances.
i. Docks constructed on the natural course of the river, or within the No-Wake-Zone where the river is less than five hundred (500) feet in width. Construction of docks may not exceed four (4) feet in width with no more than four (4) feet extending over the water, nor longer than sixteen (16) feet in length extending along the shoreline.
ii. Docks constructed in the No-Wake Zone. On the portion of the river defined as the "No-wake Zone", and where the river is over five hundred (500) feet in width, the length of temporary docks may be such as to allow access to a river depth of three (3) feet, but not to exceed fifty (50) feet in length out into the water. Permanent docks needing to extend over four (4) feet into the water in this portion of the river require a permit and review from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
b. River Access Stairs. Stairways are permitted if there is no other safe, feasible, environmentally sound access to the river; one (1) stairway per parcel containing a residence is permitted to be constructed within the setback from the river; using a handrail on each side of the stairs if needed for safety; plantings of vegetative material must be established along the sides where earth has been disturbed; allowance for transitional landings not exceeding four (4) feet in width, must obtain a zoning compliance permit from Vergennes Township prior to construction.† River access stairs should be constructed in a creative manner as low to the ground level as possible.
c. River Access Boardwalk. One (1) board walk per parcel containing a residence is permitted; constructed within the setback from the river; must be low profile without disturbing natural plant and animal habitats; which does not exceed four (4) feet in width nor does it exceed the length determined by the Zoning Administrator needed to reach the riverís edge, a handrail is allowed on each side for safety; must obtain a zoning compliance permit from Vergennes Township prior to construction, and may need a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality if constructed within the 100-year floodplain or wetlands.
C. Special Exception Uses.
1. Any use permitted in the underlying District in which the particular use is proposed, EXCLUDING, HOWEVER, mining operations, wireless communication facilities, barns, stables, silos, concentrated livestock or poultry operations (see Section 3.04,C, 2 [201.304,C, 2]),
D. Height. No residential or other building shall exceed the lesser of thirty-five (35) feet or two and one-half (21/2) stories.
E. Lot Area and Lot Width. The minimum lot area and lot width for use in this District shall be not less than the minimum lot area and lot width of the underlying district in which the particular use is proposed.
F. Setback and Side Line Spacing. The setback and side line spacing requirements in this District shall be not less than the setback and side line spacing requirements of the underlying district in which the particular use is proposed, AND IN ADDITION, the following special requirements shall apply:
1. Building Setback From River. There shall be a setback of one hundred (100) feet from the ordinary high water mark or twenty-five (25) feet from the identified 100-year floodplain line, whichever results in the greatest distance from the edge of the water and, further, that for parcels with a shoreline constituting a bluff, as defined in Section 201.202, Definitions (Bluff), new buildings and appurtenances must additionally be set back not less than fifty (50) feet from the top of the bluff.†
2. Sanitary Facilities Setback From River. All septic tanks, drain fields and other sanitary facilities shall be set back a minimum of one hundred (100) feet from the ordinary high water mark or twenty-five (25) feet from the identified one hundred (100) year floodplain line, whichever results in the greatest distance from the edge of the river. Such facilities shall meet the requirements for Kent County Health Department approval specified in Article IV, Section 4.21 [201.421], and, in addition, the bottom of the absorption field shall not be less than four (4) feet above the ordinary high water table.
3. Natural Vegetation Strip (Greenbelt). A natural vegetation strip not less than twenty-five (25) feet in width measured perpendicular to the ordinary high water mark shall be maintained along, parallel to and on each side of the Flat River and its tributaries. This vegetation strip or greenbelt shall be left in its natural state and shall consist of native trees, shrubs and vegetation which shall not be killed, destroyed, removed or moved, provided, however, that dead, diseased, unsafe or fallen trees, and poisonous plants may be removed, and provided further, that trees, shrubs and vegetation may be selectively trimmed or pruned for landscaping purposes to provide a filtered view of the river, so long as a root system remains intact to provide for streambank stabilization and erosion control, and to serve as an aid to infiltration of surface runoff, AND so long as sufficient natural vegetation is retained to provide cover to shade the water and to maintain the vegetation strip essentially in its natural condition.† Selected removal or trimming of trees for timber harvest, access or woodlot improvement, landscaping, or public utility lines to service dwellings is permitted upon approval of the zoning administrator.
4. Access to and Use of Property for Recreational Purposes. Development and use of private land along the Flat River and its tributaries for recreational purposes such as hunting, fishing, camping and picnicking shall be at the discretion and under the control of the owner of the land subject to the conditions, limitations and restrictions applicable in this District, and access to the Flat River and its tributaries across private land shall be subject to the discretion and control of the owner of the land, provided, however, that no canoe rental, canoe livery or other business or commercial activity involving the lease or rental of canoes, boats or other watercraft shall be permitted to operate in or from this District except that any such proposed use shall be deemed a Special Exception Use and shall be subject to the Special Exception Use Standards and Procedures set forth in Article V [201.500] of this Ordinance.
5. Advertising Signs and Billboards Prohibited. No advertising signs or billboards of any size or type shall be erected or maintained in this District.
6. Boating and Canoeing.
a. Non-motorized boating and canoeing is permitted.
b. Use of motorized watercraft will be permitted in accordance with local controls promulgated under the Marine Safety Act, MCLA 324.8010 Et. Seq., FKA MCLA 281.1001. Such local controls are in Section 101.000, Flat River Slow-No Wake Ordinance.
G. Floor area requirements. Residential buildings in this district shall comply with the floor area requirements set forth for the R-2 District.
(Amended: Ord. of 11-12-90; Ord. No. 92-3, 7-13-92; Ord. No. 93-1, 5-10-93; Ord. No. 96-2, 5-20-96; Ord. No. 97-3, 3-31-97; Ord. No. 98-8, 8-17-98; Ord. No. 99-8, 8-16-99; Ord. No. 2000-3, 7-17-00, Ord. No. 2001-1, 07-16-01)