by the Crystal Lake
All Rights Reserved.
P.O. Box 89, Beulah, MI 49617
Phone: (231) 882-4001
FAX: (231) 882-7810
Zoning and Land Use
Preserving our Watershed
through Environmental Regulation and Enforcement.
See also: About the CLWA
Reports – Zoning and Land Use Committee
The Annual Reports for the Zoning
and Land Use Committee and the entire CLWA are available here.
Concerns and Issues
There are many ways that we may
look at the Crystal Lake Watershed -as a student, a visitor, an owner of watershed
property (a "lakie," a "townie,", a "fudgie," etc.).
All of us have slightly different perspectives, but we all share the benefits -the
use and enjoyment of our Watershed for fishing, boating, swimming, recreation, working,
and living. We also share the same concerns for maintaining a proper balance between
reasonable environmental protection and sustainable development. Together, we are
all stewards of the environment that makes up Crystal Lake and its surrounding Watershed.
Concerns and Issues - Web
page includes a broad range of concerns for all involved and/or affected by the Crystal
Health & Environmental
The former Clean Water Committee
of Crystal Lake (ad hoc Committee, now merged in the CLWF) was
instrumental in supporting the Benzie/Leelanau Health Department in developing a
model ordinance to ensure that septic systems in proximity to Crystal Lake and other
water bodies in Benzie County comply with the latest standards in design and performance.
Environmental Health Regulations
(including regulation of onsite treatment systems)
In 1989, Benzie County became one
of the first counties in the U.S. to adopt a precedent-setting ordinance to require
upgrading of onsite wastewater treatment systems comprised of septic tanks with drain
fields, or holding tanks subject to periodic collection and disposal. Upgrading is
now required prior to sale of any properties. Priority of enforcement was placed
on upgrading those failed or poorly operating systems located near water bodies.
To date, several hundred individual systems, in the Crystal Lake Watershed and elsewhere
in Benzie County, have been upgraded. Environmental Health
Regulations (PDF document,
2.9 mB. See
here for details.)
"The purpose of this sanitary
code and its regulations is to protect the public health, safety and welfare, including
preventing the spread of disease, sources of contamination of property, surface waters
and ground waters, the public health and the environment; this purpose included the
implementation for carrying out of duties and functions vested in the Health Department
by law, further, but not by way of limitation, this purpose includes the regulation
of sewage and sewage disposal, water supplies, sanitation of habitable buildings,
dwellings and property for protecting surface and ground water, drinking water and
the environment from improper or malfunctioning sewage disposal facilities, systems
and devices and from sewage or related liquids and wastes; finally, the purpose includes
preventing or minimizing degradation of the environment as it relates to public health."
Alternative Treatment Units
Alternative Treatments Units (ATU's)
using "innovative" or "advanced" treatment technologies are required
to provide a higher degree of treatment to protect the water quality of lakes and
groundwater. This provides a solution to the problem of holding tanks without outlets
that must be pumped periodically and the contents properly disposed of in an approved
treatment facility. Benzie and Leelanau Counties have adopted new standards allowing
septic systems to be constructed on properties having soils that do not "perc",
i.e. allow partially treated wastewater to percolate through the soil for further
treatment. An advisory group formed to support the Benzie/Leelanau District Health
Department in implementing these new regulations, is comprised of Walter Nielson
and Dave Schmidtke, of Leelanau Co., and Stacy Daniels, of Benzie Co.
Treatment Systems (PDF
document, 646 kB. See
here for details.)
"This regulation applies to
residential building sites requiring onsite sewage treatment and disposal for compliance
under the Benzie County Environmental Health Regulations. The provisions of Section
2.459 Alternative Treatment Systems shall apply in the event that a site does not
meet the minimum requirements of Section 2,458 Permit Denial."
A regional group, the Northwest
Michigan Onsite Wastewater Task Force, a consortium of government, health, planning
and wastewater officials, environmental groups, engineers and concerned individuals,
was recently formed to document current wastewater practices; to become a central
point of contact for the dissemination and promotion of information on the practical
application of emerging, innovative, and current technologies.
Further details are available in a three-part publication: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. (All are PDF documents – see here for details.)
Onsite Wastewater Treatment
The Benzie/Leelanau District Health
Department was the recipient of a grant funded in May, 1995, by the U.S. EPA under
the National Onsite Demonstration Project (NODP) and managed by the National Small
Flows Clearinghouse at West Virginia University. The overall project focused on demonstration
of technologies in a range of communities in various regions of the United States
where environmental and site constraints favored the use of alternative and decentralized
wastewater technologies. Water quality considerations included: close proximity to
lakes; shallow water table; highly permeable, sandy soils; small lot sizes. The main
concern was to provide pathogen and phosphorus removal.
In Benzie Co., seven systems were installed by the BLDHD, including iron oxide phosphorus
removal horizontal barrier, recirculating sand filter followed by an upflow oxide-rich
phosphorus removal filter, packed-bed filter, intermittent sand filter, open-cell
foam biofilter, low-pressure shallow trenches, and low-pressure contour trenches.
Systems have performed according to expectations with the upflow P-removal filter
showing much promise. Regular system monitoring ceased in 1998 but local performance
More details are available from pages 10-11 of this document: www.nesc.wvu.edu/nsfc/pdf/sf/SFf99.pdf (PDF document – see here for details.)
Lake Watershed Overlay District (Sustainable Development)
The Crystal Lake Watershed Overlay
District (CLWOD) is a geographical area subject to special zoning regulations transcending
typical political boundaries. Created to protect and manage the valuable natural
resources of the Crystal Lake Watershed, it contains certain provisions for planning
Crystal Lake Watershed Overlay District - Article
XXIV of Benzie County Zoning Ordinance.
(PDF document, 646 kB. See
here for details.)
"The purpose of this Article
is to protect the environmental quality of Crystal Lake, the Crystal Lake shoreline,
and the Crystal Lake Watershed through appropriate land use and design regulations.
The protection of the Crystal Lake Watershed is deemed a public purpose in order
to preserve important environmental, historical, residential, recreational, cultural,
scenic, and economic attributes of the region."
"More specifically, the purpose of this Article is to protect the public heath,
safety, and welfare; to prevent and control water pollution; to protect fish spawning
grounds, aquatic life, bird, and other wildlife habitat; to protect buildings and
lands from accelerated erosion; to protect wetlands; to control building sites, placement
of structures, and land uses; to conserve shore cover; to conserve natural beauty
and open space; and to anticipate and respond to the impacts of development in shoreland
The Article contains certain provisions
for planning and zoning that are more restrictive than conventional county-wide zoning.
It is enforced in association with other ordinances governing land use, road building,
residential and commercial construction, onsite wastewater treatment systems, and
"The purpose of the design
requirements of this section (24.6) are to slow the rate of stormwater runoff, to
reduce erosion and sedimentation, to protect water quality, to keep nutrients from
entering lakes and streams, to maintain water temperatures at natural levels, to
preserve fish and wildlife habitat, and to preserve aesthetic and scenic values of
the watershed environment."
All new development, including
additions or extensions to existing buildings, shall meet design requirements for:
setbacks, vegetative buffer, development on steep slopes, development on ridge lines,
private roads, general design standards, and construction guidelines.
The Crystal Lake Watershed Overlay District is described in Crystal Whitecaps Vol.
3, No. 1 (Fall/Winter 2006)
Several issues also have been described in past issues of Crystal Shorelines (CLWF):
13.5 (Spring 2001) - PDF
document, 20 kB
15 (December 2002) - PDF
document, 42 kB
here for details on working
with PDF documents.
Crystal Lake Boating Access Site (MDNR)
Crystal Lake Boating Access Site
- This page includes Settlement Letter; Launch Area Alternative Design; Revised Parking
Area Site Plan; Previous Status Reports; Issues, Concerns, Proposed Alternative,
Precedents, Alternative Stormwater and Wastewater Treatment – Comments with Map,
Permit Application & Permit Granted, additional observations and viewpoints,
Background: The Benzie Corridor
was proposed in the original legislation creating the Sleeping Bear Dunes National
Lakeshore in 1970 to be an 8-mile "parkway" from M-22 to US-31 along the
high ridge between the Crystal Lake and Platte River Watersheds. It would affect
the viewsheds of both lakes and encompass ~ 1,200 Acres, or about 7% of the total
land area of the Crystal Lake Watershed. Further acquisition of lands in the Corridor
by SBDNL allows for some coordinated "protection" of land use. This is
contrasted with potential piecemeal development of private properties already subject
to the zoning regulations of the Crystal Lake Watershed Overlay District (CLWOD).
The Benzie Corridor is considered within four alternatives of the General Management
Plan / Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement (GMP/WS/EIS) currently under
development by the NPS: (1) continued purchase of lands; (2) cease acquisition of
lands; (3) continued purchase for development of a scenic road; or (4) continued
purchased with development of a hike/bike trail. Other issues associated with the
GMP are how to balance wilderness protection with vehicle access. To settle any debate
over possible closures of existing roads, the SBDNL has worked closely with the county
road commissions and is proposing that all county roads remain open.
Left unaffected by the 1982 relegislation of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
(Public Law 97-361) was the proposed six and a half-mile scenic road corridor through
the Crystal Highlands in Benzie County. A feasibility study established that there
would be no serious environmental side effects from the road, (other than impacting
the viewshed of Crystal Lake), but that it would be very costly ($18.7 million),
and based on current park visitation rates the road was not necessary.
- Summary of the issues affecting the Crystal
Lake Watershed (Crystal
Whitecaps Vol. 3, No. 1, Fall/Winter 2006) (PDF
document, 1.7 mB. See
here for details.)
- General Management Plan / Wilderness Study
(SBDNL) - includes maps
- Interpretation of
the Draft Management Zones and Preliminary Alternatives from GMP/Wilderness Study (Newsletter 4 - March 2007) by CLWA
on the General Management Plan/Wilderness Study (ID: 14651), Document: GMP/Wilderness
Study, Newsletter 2 - May 2006
(ID: 15338), specific to reassessment of the Benzie Corridor (Crystal Ridge) and
reestablishment of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) Advisory Commission.
(PDF document, 7 pages, 316 kB. See here
on the Draft General Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement (August 31, 2002) (PDF document, 745 kB.
here for details.)
- The Platte Embayment
Click on image for a much larger
Click on image for
a much larger view
M-22 Highway Improvement
Roadway improvements are being
planned by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for the 2005 construction
season on M-22 from South Shore Drive to Crystal Drive (at Herdsman Bay). These improvements
involve no basic widening of the road and are desirable from the standpoint of safety.
They may require, however, certain changes in the drainage pattern by additions of
ditches and underdrains, and the selective removal of encroaching trees and other
vegetation. Informational sessions will continue to be held.
letter from MDOT on M-22 improvements
(PDF document, 109 kB. See
here for details.)