Planning & Zoning

Planning Commission

onota township zoning
Moonlight on Shelter Bay

What is a Planning Commission?
Seven township citizens sit on the Planning Commission, led by a chairperson (members listed in the directory). Their regular meetings take place on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7 pm in the Township Hall. Some of their responsibilities include: advising the township board on community planning and development, planning for future land use, and drafting ordinances.

What is the purpose of a Planning Commission?
Their central mission is to develop & maintain a comprehensive master plan. This plan deals with where types of land use (residential, agricultural, industrial, etc) may be preserved or developed, and how these uses interrelate. It is intended to be a guide for future decisions and actions by township officials & citizens. Over the years, the master plan, as well as the zoning ordinance (see zoning below), and recreation plan have each been developed and are updated as required.

How can I participate in meetings?
Meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month at 7 pm in the Township Hall (located at E1461 Deerton-Sand Lake Road). There are two public comment times during each meeting.

Who can serve on the Planning Commission?
Any resident of the township. If you are interested in serving, please write a letter of interest to the Onota Township Board; PO Box 100; Deerton, MI 49822. If there are no openings, your letter will be kept for contact when a position opens, so please include your contact information.



Notice: Vacation Rentals (rented for 14 days or less) are permitted only in the Town Development zoning districts (map) within Onota Township. Please check on zoning requirements before beginning any such business activity, new property use and/or construction to avoid potential violation of the Township Zoning Ordinance.

Zoning Administrator

The Township Zoning Administrator, Mike Tietjen, can be contacted via phone (906 573-3333) or email (mike.tietjen at He provides information and support related to the Zoning Ordinance.

What is zoning?
Zoning is related to land use planning, however its central purpose is to regulate land use in the township. As an enforcement tool, it provides a process that either permits or prohibits varying land uses. The districts (Residential, Lakeshore & River, Town Development, Timber Production, Resource Production, Industrial) are defined in the zoning ordinance.

How do I know what district I am in?
Check the zoning map. This map is from the final page of the Zoning Ordinance.

When do I apply for a zoning permit? How?
Any new land use or development requires that a zoning permit be issued. You should complete a zoning permit application form. Next, you will need to contact the Zoning Administrator so that he can review and approve the planned land use before you apply for a [required] Building Permit from Alger County Leave site. Following your permit approval, the Alger County building inspector (Joe Cilc) can be reached at (906) 387-2727.

What are the regulations?
The Zoning Ordinance regulates lot size and building dimensions – as well as their placement on property lots. There may be other limitations based on which district you live in; please check the ordinance itself (link), or contact the Zoning Administrator (phone: 906 573-3333 / email: mike.tietjen at if you have further questions.

Zoning Forms & Files

Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals interprets the wording in the Zoning Ordinance, hears appeals on decisions made by the Zoning Administrator, and may grant variances (an exception to zoning requirements; see Zoning Variance Application). Three township residents (Jim Stone, Martin Dolan, Brian Bresette; alternate: vacant) serve three year terms on this board. To apply for a vacancy or open seat, you must send a letter of interest to Onota Township. Hearings & meetings are only held on an as-needed basis.

onota township zoning
Sand River