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John R. Watson Community Resource Center
3434 Harbor-Petoskey Rd., Suite E • Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Phone: (231) 348-1735
Fax: (231) 439-8933
Email: [email protected]

The Emmet County Planning and Zoning Department is responsible for protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people who visit, live, or work in Emmet County by planning and regulating land use activities to ensure compliance with the Emmet County Zoning Ordinance.



Planning & Zoning Director, Zoning Administrator
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (231) 439-8998
Assistant Planning & Zoning Director
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (231) 439-8961
Assistant Planner/Ordinance Enforcement Officer
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (231) 348-1735
Administrative Assistant/Permit Processor
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (231) 348-1735
Administrative Assistant
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (231) 348-1735
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (231) 348-1735

emmet county costal resiliency

Zoning Ordinance & Amendments


The full Emmet County Zoning Ordinance (a 280-page PDF), including amendments added through November 23, 2023, is available by clicking on the button below. For convenience and smaller download size, the commonly used sections are listed below

The Emmet County Zoning Ordinance was updated May 2, 2024. Please confirm current Zoning Ordinance text by email: [email protected] or call 231.348.1735.


County Zoning & Jurisdiction


Emmet County began administering a County Zoning Ordinance on October 30, 1972, following the completion of the first County Comprehensive Plan. As intended, Emmet County serves Township zoning functions through a County-wide Code, and few zoning actions are taken without consulting the Township community affected. A new County Zoning Ordinance (15-01) is being enforced as of October 27, 2015.

Advantages to County Zoning:

  • Convenience to Permit Applicants who must coordinate construction plans with the County Sanitary Code, the County Building Code, and the Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance.
  • Full-time office hours to answer inquiries, take permit applications, disseminate planning-zoning information, and assist in filling out permits.
  • Administrative services pertinent to permit records, published legal notices, notifying property owners, and meeting minutes.
  • Update work on the County Zoning Text effectively applies to all of the unincorporated areas that have County Zoning without the need to have such updates done township by township.
  • The County Zoning Ordinance is based on the adopted County Master Plan which effectively satisfies Enabling Statute directives to base zoning on a Plan.
  • Establishes uniform procedures and standards for zoning administration and enforcement throughout the County, and draws upon the legal services of the office of the County Civil Counsel.


Emmet County administers Zoning for the Townships of Bear Creek, Bliss, Carp Lake, Center, Cross Village, Friendship, Littlefield, Maple River, McKinley, Readmond, Springvale and Wawatam.

The Townships of Little Traverse, Pleasantview, Resort and West Traverse administer separate Zoning Ordinances, as well as all incorporated areas within Emmet County, which include the Villages of Alanson, Mackinaw City and Pellston, and the Cities of Harbor Springs and Petoskey.

To apply for a Zoning Permit in a Township under Emmet County Zoning jurisdiction, contact staff at the Emmet County Office of Planning and Zoning (see Hours and Location).

To apply for a Zoning Permit outside of Emmet County Zoning jurisdiction, contact the appropriate Township, Village or City

Planning and Zoning Resources


The Emmet County Board of Commissioners established the Office of Planning and Zoning in August of 1972. Since August 1, 1976, the Planning Department has operated with full time staff.


The Planning Commission in Emmet County was organized to deal with growth pressures that were felt in the mid to late 1960s. This precipitated a research effort that involved inventorying land uses, community facilities, and natural features. Population and economic trends were documented, analyzed, and projected into the future. In 1972, the Planning Commission’s mandate to prepare a Comprehensive Future Land Use Plan was fulfilled, and on July 1, 1997, the first comprehensive master plan update was completed and adopted.  The Planning Commission continues to update the Emmet County Master Plan as needed.
The following lists some of the significant roles of the County Planning Commission:

  • Provide a regional scope to the planning work, promoting coordination among the townships and municipalities (21 units in Emmet County).
  • Prepare and maintain a County Master Plan and Recreation Plan.
  • Fill planning voids between State/Multi-County Planning Agencies and individual municipalities.
  • Communicate with agencies serving across municipal lines (i.e. highways, solid waste, trails, parks, drains/sewers) and uses of greater than local concern.
  • Provide local planning advisory services and staff resources that smaller communities may not have, and be an information center for development and conservation projects (i.e. zoning, land divisions, model ordinance language).
  • Promote uniform development standards among several adjacent municipalities. Examples include regulations for towers, resource extraction, outdoor lighting, and signs and billboards.
  • Assist local units in satisfying grant agency requirements for plans and plan documentation.
  • Carry out educational and promotional services for planning in the County and among the local units, including publicizing planning goals and objectives.
  • Administer zoning regulations for unincorporated areas that may not have ordinances of their own.
  • Review zoning amendments in Townships that have their own zoning regulations, serving as the County Zoning Coordinating Committee.
  • Set area-wide land use goals, encouraging local units and adjacent counties to coordinate good land use practices, including efforts to conserve natural resources, provide open space, establish public recreational facilities (i.e. parks, trails, recreation centers), and otherwise take a leadership role where such is deemed necessary or desirable to prepare for growing future needs.


Most Recent Annual Report

2022 Planning & Zoning Annual Report

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2021 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2020 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2019 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2018 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2017 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2016 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2015 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2014 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2013 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2012 Planning & Zoning Annual Report
2011 Planning & Zoning Annual Report

Emmet County, Michigan
200 Division Street, Petoskey MI 49770
(231) 348-1700 | Contact Us