Lake Access Regulations


AKA: Keyhole development, Anti-funneling, riparian lot use regulations

One way local governments can address lake access and overcrowding conflicts is through limiting keyhole developments. Keyhole development, also called funnel development, occurs when a lakefront lot is used to provide lake access to a larger development (like condominiums, campgrounds, or planned unit developments) located away from the lake. This development of a large parcel that has a relatively small, narrow frontage on a body of water can mean heavier use of the lake than is typical from a single family lot. Conflicts that can arise from these developments include increased boating traffic, increased shoreline erosion from boat wakes, water quality impacts, noise, and navigation issues.

Keyhole development regulations can be added to an existing zoning ordinance or adopted as a separate police power ordinance. Local governments should be careful not to prohibit keyhole developments entirely and to use proper justification when developing standards. Establishing lot width requirements for access per dwelling unit and limiting the number of watercraft per dock are two options for local governments.


Additional Reference Material

MunicipalityCountyResource DescriptionResource Link
Four Townships Water Resources CouncilBarry and Kalamazoo CountyRecreational Carrying Capacity StudyClick here
Little Long LakeBarry and Kalamazoo CountyRecreational and Environmental Carrying Capacity StudyClick here

Additional Ordinance Examples

MunicipalityCountyResource DescriptionResource Link
Wayland TownshipAllegan CountySection 3.47: Lake Access RegulationsClick here
Yankee Springs TownshipBarry CountyArticle XVIII: Riparian Lot Use RegulationsClick here
Eveline TownshipCharlevoix CountySection 4.18: Access to Water FrontageClick here
Hayes TownshipCharlevoix CountySection 3.14: Waterfront RegulationsClick here
Lincoln Township Clare CountyOrdinance 38: Lake, Dock and Boating RegulationsClick here
Genoa TownshipLivingstone CountyArticle 13. Section 13.03: Riparian Lot Common Use (Keyhole)Click here