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 PDF file. 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 PDF file 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.

Why wasn’t a meeting held on its scheduled date?
Township boards & commissions must have a minimum number of members present for any meeting to be held (also known as a quorum). For the planning commission, the minimum is 4 of 7 members in attendance – if less, the meeting cannot be legally held. If there is a deadline or urgent matter, a special meeting may be held (at the discretion of the commission).

What about public hearings?
Public hearings are a portion of a meeting meant to invite public input on a specific topic. Public hearing notices are always posted on this site and at the township hall (in the notice box on the porch).

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 open positions, your letter will kept on file (for 1 year) for an opening, so please include your contact information.



Zoning Administrator

The Onota Township Zoning Administrator, Jason McCarthy, can be contacted via phone (906.399.1808) or email ( 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 building permit from Alger County. After your permit is approved, contact the Alger County building inspector Leave site.

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 by phone (906.399.1808) or email ( if you have further questions.

Zoning Forms + Files

Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) interprets the wording in the Zoning Ordinance, hears appeals on decisions made by the Zoning Administrator or Planning Commission, and may grant variances (an exception to zoning requirements; see Zoning Board of Appeals Petition). Three township residents serve three-year terms on this board. To apply for a vacancy, please send a letter of interest to Onota Township. Meetings and public hearings are only held on an as-needed basis.

ZBA files

onota township zoning
Sand River