2017-06-15 / Local News

Relating iconic Fountain Point, zoning

Three days short of the 128th birthday of Fountain Point Resort, members of the Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission were discussing how the iconic lakeside business fits into local zoning.

Family-owned Fountain Point, which started renting rooms to summertime guests on June 9, 1889, is located on the east side of Lake Leelanau just south of the narrows. It falls within the township’s agricultural zoning district even though it has operated as a commercial resort since long before the township passed its first Zoning Ordinance.

Fountain Point boasts the largest boathouse on the lake. At last week’s meeting township planners agreed that the Fountain Point boathouse and many other existing boathouses on Lake Leelanau would be “grandfathered.”

A proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment would update a definition of a “boathouse” to include dimensional and other limits. For example, township planner Kathy Egan explained, a boathouse may contain lighting and electrical connections, but not plumbing.

Prohibiting plumbing in boathouses would prevent someone from building a residence over a boathouse, Egan said.

Proposed new Zoning Ordinance language would also allow storage structures within the shoreline setback spelled out in the ordinance, Egan added. Small storage buildings to store water toys, canoes, beach furniture and other items will continue to be allowed — but not when a boathouse is also on the property.

Township planners also discussed whether a relatively new Zoning Ordinance provision to regulate special events on agricultural property should pertain to Fountain Point, which is located in an agriculture district. Fountain Point has long been the site of “special events” such as concerts, weddings, rowing regattas, and other mass gatherings.

“The Planning Commission doesn’t know exactly how to handle Fountain Point Resort in this regard,” Egan explained. “Nobody wants to impede their ability to stay in business, but they’re technically in the agriculture district. So, the Planning Commission is passing this on to the Township Board to see what they would like to do.”

The Suttons Bay Township Board was slated to discuss the issue at its regular monthly meeting yesterday evening, June 14.

A spokesman for Fountain Point Resort could not immediately be reached for comment.

— by Eric Carlson

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