Impervious surface is defined as a hard surface that either prevents or retards the entry of water into the soil. Examples include, but are not limited to, structures, walkways, patios, driveways, carports, storage areas and concrete or asphalt paving. As communities become more urbanized, rooftops, roadways, and other impervious surfaces replace natural ground cover. As impervious surfaces increase, runoff increases and infiltration into the ground decreases, (with natural ground cover 40% of rainfall evaporates back into the sky, 50% soaks into the ground and 10% is runoff, with impervious surface 30% evaporates back into the sky, 15% soaks into the ground and 55% is runoff.) With an increase in imperviousness and the quantity of storm water runoff, there is generally a concurrent increase in the quantity of pollutants transported into our lakes. Just one-tenth of an inch of falling rain on a 1,000 square foot roof can fill 65 gallons of water. Low Impact Development is an approach to land development that uses various planning and design practices that protect natural resources. This is generally accomplished by controlling storm water at the source by preserving natural site features and by reducing impervious surfaces. (This information provided by the Website- Michiganlakeinfo, articles by Tony Groves). 

I know of a Zoned Township, whose Zoning Ordinance allowed residents to build a utility building only on their immediate property and then no larger than the footprint of their existing residence (this was to protect the quality of the many lakes in the township). The Planning Commission for this Township is made up of four people and all of them are Riparian owners. They came up with an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would allow people to erect utility buildings across the road, contiguous to their property, (against the advice of Kurt Shindler, a Michigan Planning Consultant) or on the property their residence is on. These utility buildings or garages or whatever could now be built up to four times or more the size of the riparian land owner’s residences. This amendment was then sent to the Township Board, (made up of five members, three of which are Riparian owners) and they passed it without any thought to the consequences to the lakes.

 An article written by Cliff Bloom called Variance Madness and printed by the Michigan Township Association says that a ZBA that allows over 10% of Land Use Variances is a ZBA gone wild and should be reined in by the Township Board. The Zoning Board of Appeals for this Township has allowed over 80% of the Land Use Variance requests that have come to them in the last 2 years. These requests range from larger than allowed buildings, closer to the lakes than allowed buildings and/or structures and more, all impervious surfaces. The ZBA is made up of five members, three of them are riparian owners, and the Chairman of the ZBA is also the President of the Property Owners Association. The mission statement of the POA is to focus on protecting and enhancing the resources associated with the surface waters, ground waters, and water related habitats of the lakes. A letter written to the Board and signed by several members of the Township requested that the Board rein the ZBA in, nothing happened. Riparian owners need to watch out for who gets appointed to township positions such as Planning Commissions and Zoning Board of Appeals.

Riparian’s study manuals for autos, study manuals for appliances, study manuals of their boats and pontoons to keep them all in good condition. Riparian’s educate themselves to take care of their houses and landscapes. Why then do a lot of them not educate themselves in regard to taking care of their lakes? Why do they not keep an eye on the people that are supposed to keep an eye on their lakes?  Please take care of your lake; it will last longer, if not for you, do it for your kids, grandkids, and all the wildlife that lives because of your lake.  For more information, join your lake association or join a state wide lake association, study, educate yourself.


Roger Carey

Lake George

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