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Ontonagon village passes hybrid zoning ordinance

July 26, 2012
By STACEY KUKKONEN - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

ONTONAGON - The Ontonagon Village Council passed its 400-page, highly detailed hybrid zoning ordinance this week amid changes in state law.

Joe Erickson, village manager, said the ordinance was designed by the planning commission and was in the works for some time now.

"Back in 2006 ... all the communities in the state had to go through the process of adopting a zoning ordinance that would meet the new state laws," he said.

The ordinance was put in place to establish zoning districts for the village and to establish regulations for those districts that are consistent with the village's master plan. The ordinance is also intended to encourage and regulate the proper use of land; provide for the administration, enforcement and penalties for violations; continue a Zoning Board of Appeals, and to provide duties for the board of appeals and planning commission.

Erickson said the council welcomed the zoning ordinance, however, it didn't come without concern from the community.

"There were a lot of questions from the public," he said.

Some of those concerns include the immense details and the length of the document, and some concern, Erickson said, came from the language.

The zoning ordinance covers everything from interpretation and application, zoning intent and purposes, district overview, use, structures regulations, general lot regulations, general parking and loading regulations, general landscaping and fencing, sign regulations, utility and public infrastructure regulations, general access regulations, environmental protection, and general provisions, such as height, decks, dwellings, additions and razing of buildings.

Some of the concerns from the public stems from the general landscaping and fence regulations, which outlines landscaping and screening standards and recommended plant types, placement and maintenance.

Per the zoning ordinance, "Species recommended are native and especially appropriate where limited maintenance and cultivation are expected," and it advises against planting invasive species.

The ordinance also gives a list of shade trees recommended for planting, evergreen trees, evergreen shrubs, deciduous shrubs, understory trees, ground cover and native seeds.

The ordinance also outlines regulations for public zoning.

"The hybrid part is in the commercial and business districts, it's more form-based," he said. "Your zoning is less about setbacks and more about trying to create a more consistent character and look to your community."

Erickson said opposition comes from the detailed nature of the ordinance more than its content.

"The zoning ordinance includes lots of definitions and better defines what uses are permitted," he said.

Although there is redundancy throughout the document, Erickson said that prevents the reader from flipping back and forth between pages in the document.

"You don't have to refer back to a certain section," he said. "It's a lot more comprehensive and user friendly."

The ordinance must be printed publicly within 15 days from being approved by the public. The council worked with U.P. Engineers & Architects to create the zoning ordinance.

A copy of the draft released to the public in February can be found at



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