The City of Charlevoix
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The city of Charlevoix, Michigan
City Departments
Manager's Office
Planning & Zoning Department
Police Department
Fire Department
Recreation Department

Public Works

    Street Department

    Water Distribution

    Sewer Collection

Street Department
Human Resources
Property Assessment
Golf Course
Downtown Development Authority (DDA)

    Farmer's Market

Charlevoix Municipal Airport
Electric Department
Waste Water Treatment
Water Treatment Plant
Planning & Zoning Department
Phone: 231-547-3265 |
Mailing Address: 210 State Street
Office Location: Top Floor

Staff Planner  Sarah Lucas

Zoning Administrator Jonathan Scheel


The City of Charlevoix Department of Planning and Zoning strives to provide the highest level of service to the City's residents, elected officials, boards and committees on a wide variety of topics relating to community and economic development, long-range planning, zoning, transportation, and many other land use related topics. 

The City of Charlevoix strives to create an attractive, vibrant, and diverse community through innovative planning and community development strategies and practices. 


City of Charlevoix Zoning Ordinance Title V

City of Charlevoix Zoning Map

Zoning Permit Application (See detailed information below)          

Fence Permit Application

Sign Permit Application

Variance Application

Complaint Form

Short Term Rental Registration Application

Click here for ZBA and Planning Commission minutes.

City of Charlevoix Nuisance Ordinance   Title VI Health Regulations


Title Page, Acknowledgements, and Resolution Adopted December 19, 2016

Table of Contents

Chapter 1:  Introduction

Chapter 2: Community Profile

Chapter 3: Community Vision and Goals

Chapter 4: Charlevoix Tomorrow

Chapter 5: Implementation


A. 2009 Community Survey and Results

B. Student Survey Results

C. Tip of the Mitt Ordinance Gaps

D. 2006 Plan Revision - Goals, Objectives, and Policies

E. 2004 Regional Smart Growth Land Use Planning Initiative Summary

F. Form Based Code Information

G. Smart Growth Information

H. Economic Development Strategy

I. Downtown Marketing Assessment


Title Page and Acknowledgements

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction and Planning Process

Chapter 2: Community Description

Chapter 3: Administrative Structure

Chapter 4: Recreation Inventory

Chapter 5: Complete Streets and Walkable Communities

Chapter 6: Public Input, Community Vision, and Goals

Chapter 7: Capital Improvements and Recreation Strategy


A. 2009 Community Survey and Results

B. Student Survey Results

C. Existing and Future Land Use Maps North and South

D. Planning area chart of parks and recreational facilities

E. Complete Streets Design Guidelines information at

Development Plan Review $275
Rezoning Application $325
Variance- Zoning Board of Appeals $350
Special Use Permit $300
Parcel Division $125
Zoning Appeals $300
Sign Variance $300
Sign Permit $25
Zoning Permit $40
Alley Abandonment $250
Demolition Permit $0
Sidewalk Permit $0



Long-Range Planning:  The City Planning Office is responsible for providing technical assistance on creation, adoption, and amendments to long range planning documents such as the Master Plan and Park and Recreation Master Plan in accordance with relevant state laws and common practice.  Both documents are currently in the process of being updated.  Long range planning is necessary to establish future goals, objectives, and policies pertaining to future growth and development, ensure appropriate capital improvements, and serve as the basis for appropriate land use regulations such as zoning. 

Zoning:  The city's first zoning ordinance was first enacted in 1941 and a subsequent ordinance went into effect in 1978.  There have been a number of revisions to certain various sections of the zoning code over time, which are annotated in the ordinance by referencing the ordinance number and date of passage.   The purpose of the zoning ordinance is to promote orderly development of the city, protect public health, safety, and welfare, protect property rights, prevent overcrowding, provide for adequate light, drainage, access, and transportation.  The City Planning Office is responsible for administration and enforcement of the zoning ordinance.  City Zoning Administrator issues zoning and sign permits, investigates zoning violations, and assists the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals with the following:

Planning Commission: Recommends map and text amendments to City Council, Development Plan Reviews, and Special Use Permits.  (See detailed information below.)

Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA):  Interpretations of the zoning ordinance, variances, and appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Administrator. (See detailed information below.)

Economic Development:  The City of Charlevoix encourages retention of existing businesses and promotes new business to our area.  The City and surrounding area is a wonderful community to live and do business on a year round basis.  The business services page at the top has valuable information for new and existing businesses.  The City Planning Office works with new and existing businesses on finding an appropriate locations, the review process for any structural alterations or additions, and sign permits.  Our office is happy to help in any way we can.

Nuisance Ordinance: Charlevoix prides itself as being a clean, well kept community for the benefit of our residents and visitors.   The City has provisions in both the zoning ordinance and the health regulations requiring property owners to maintain their property and kept free of nuisances.  Title VI, Health Regulations, which contains the nuisance ordinance can be downloaded above.  Here are a few quick reminders about maintaining your property:

  • Cut your lawn at least once every three weeks. The City Code states that both grasses and weeds should not be allowed to grow above twelve inches in height.
  • Those who keep vehicles on their property must keep two things in mind: - Vehicles must have a valid and current license. - Vehicles must be in operable condition.
    If a vehicle does not meet both of these requirements, it must be removed from your property, or moved indoors.
  • Take a quick survey of your property and look for any scrap, tires, broken machinery, junk, or other rubbish that may be lying around. Make plans to move these items inside a building or off your property as soon as possible.
  • If you have building materials on your property, you must also display a valid building permit from the Charlevoix County Building Department.
  • Remember that any unsecured building or structure can become a prime spot for wild animals seeking shelter. Make sure to guard buildings on your property by securely shutting windows and doors, and ensuring that animals cannot gain entry through holes in the siding, foundation, or roof.
  • Do not throw oils, wastes, or derivatives of either on the ground, and take special care when depositing anything in a gutter — storm drains lead directly to Round Lake or Lake Charlevoix.

Geographical Information Systems:  Geographical Information Systems (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. It is estimated that 80 to 90% of governmental data has a geographic element associated with it.  GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts.  Google Earth is probably the most popular GIS application used by the public, but the City uses this emerging technology is a number of other ways. 

The City of Charlevoix uses GIS in planning and zoning, transportation, fire protection and EMS, infrastructure planning and assistance with the municipal power supply.   The City has high quality aerial photography available from 2004 and a number of other databases used in our GIS.   The City Planning Office is currently establishing a GIS work program that identify priorities and ways that our departments can utilize this system to increase efficiency and allow for more informed decisions. 

In some cases, our office can create custom maps or images for the public based on aerial photography or other mapping resources we have.  Please keep in mind there may be a charge for this service based on the request and time involved. 

Historic Preservation:  The City of Charlevoix and the surrounding area has the benefit of having a very active local group dedicated to preserving Charlevoix's history called the Charlevoix Historical Society.  This organization can be reached at 231-547-0373 or at  

Historic Preservation efforts in the Charlevoix, like most other cities, has been somewhat controversial and in some cases met with opposition.  The demolition of the former office of Earl Young, a local designer and builder of unique stone buildings, spurred a citizen movement to look into protecting local historic features.  This effort resulted in a three day forum and educational presentation held in December of 2007 to educate the public on historic preservation and local historic districts.   These presentations can be checked out at the Charlevoix Public Library or the Planning Office for viewing at home.   In addition, the City formed a Historic District Commission and Historic District Study Commission who were responsible for working with the State Historic Preservation Office on studying potential local historic districts.  If established the City could regulate the demolition of historic structures, remodels, new construction or other types of exterior renovations which would have to be concurrent with architectural design standards. 


Click here for the Michigan Planning Enabling Act.   PA 33 of 2008.

Click here for the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act.     PA 110 of 2006.

Click here for information about the Citizen Planner Program through MSU Extension.

Click here for the American Planning Association.

Click here for the Michigan Association of Planners.

Click here for the Land Policy Institute.

Click here for Charlevoix County Extension.


Click here for information about smart growth.

Click here for information about form based codes.


BOARDS AND COMMITTEES  (Click here for meeting minutes.)

The Office of Planning and Zoning provides technical assistance to the following:

City Council:  Nine elected officials responsible for approval of any new legislation, amendments to the zoning ordinance, development plan approvals, and approval of legal actions concerning land use and abatement of nuisances. Council meets on the first and third Monday of each month and may hold other special meetings.  Click here for more information on Charlevoix City Council.

Planning Commission:  Nine members appointed by the Mayor for a term of three years. Responsible for creation of the City Master Plan, recommendations on map and textual revisions to the zoning, zone changes, and various other planning and zoning related functions. 

Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA): Five member board, with two alternate members, appointed three year terms by City Council. The ZBA is responsible for Interpretations of the zoning ordinance, variances, and appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Administrator.  The ZBA meets on an as needed basis. 



Starting a construction project? Putting up a shed or garage? The Department of Planning and Zoning is responsible for the issuance of zoning permits.

  • What is it? A zoning permit is used to prevent overcrowding, provide for fire safety, and to ensure orderly development. A zoning permit is different from a building permit, which is issued by the Charlevoix County Building Department. For many types of projects, one must first apply for and receive a zoning permit before they receive a building permit.
  • When do I need one? A zoning permit is required for the construction, erection, alteration, placing, or moving of any building or structure on any lot. This includes everything from home additions to the placement of storage sheds. A zoning permit is not required for interior projects, the replacing of windows, siding, or roof (if the height of the roof does not change). Although a zoning permit may not be required for these types of projects, a building permit may be.
  • If you are unsure if you need a permit, contact the City Planner at (231) 547-3265 before you start your next construction or home improvement project.


Development plan review is covered by Section 5.188 in the zoning ordinance.  This review is necessary for any new construction, enlargements, additions, and changes to building elevations in any zone except R-1 or R-2.  Development plan review may also be required for grading taking place in any zone or changes in use that requires additional parking. 

The City Planning Office can help you determine what would be required for development plan review and assist applicants with that process.  Landowners and tenants within 300 linear feet of a proposed development are notified of the project via mail.  The Planning Commission reviews the project for compliance with the zoning ordinance and forwards a recommendation on to City Council, who is the final decision maker.   For more information on the development plan review process please contact the Planning Office and review Section 5.188 of the zoning ordinance.



Although the City of Charlevoix website is updated frequently, it may not be as current as information available at City Hall.  Information contained in the City Code section is intended for reference only and should be verified by calling the Clerk’s office at (231) 547-3250 or the City Manager’s office at (231) 547-3270.

The City of Charlevoix | 210 State Street | Charlevoix, MI 49720 | Phone: 231-547-3270 | Fax: 231-547-3617
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