Upcoming Changes To Regarding Short Term Rentals (STR)

February 2, 2017

Introduction to Short Term Rentals in Cheboygan County

The “sharing economy” has become a means by which the ordinary person can eliminate the middle man and create a business online with very little investment and much profit. One example of the sharing economy that adds to a local economy is the commercial renting of homes for vacation stays. These are often called Short Term Rentals or STR’s.

This has been occurring in various ways throughout Cheboygan County. More recently, because of the popularity of websites such as (VRBO = Vacation Rental By Owner) it is possible for more people to rent their homes. This also brings with it an increase in complaints. Communities throughout the nation have struggled with these types of rentals because they can, in some cases, bring with it an increase in complaints. In addition, often this commercial use of a home conflicts with local zoning laws for residential neighborhoods.

When we receive a complaint we must review it for whether the Short Term Rental meets the zoning ordinance. In most cases the short term rental of a home is not permitted along waterfront properties in Cheboygan County.

This was brought to the attention of the Planning Commission after the first half dozen enforcement matters had been undertaken because it was clear that the regulation would impact a great number of waterfront property owners in Cheboygan County. The question was posed, does the County want to keep restricting these or is there a desire to change the law and allow them to occur.

In recent meetings of the Cheboygan County Planning Commission there were public comments shared in support of allowing the Short Term Rentals in Cheboygan County on the waterfront. At the February 2nd Planning Commission meeting, County staff were instructed to begin drafting language to change the ordinance to reflect this change.

The next step is to inform the Board of Commissioners of the Planning Commission’s intent and simultaneously to begin drafting new ordinance language that would permit Short Term Rentals on waterfront in Cheboygan County.

More information will be available as the language is drafted and will be posted on this site.

Also, you can always call Community Development Department staff at 231-627-8489, email us at or by visiting the department’s website at:


UPDATE: February 24, 2017

On February 15, 2017 at 7pm, the Planning Commission met and requested additional simplifications to the proposed language so that there would be no zoning review of any vacation rental in the County. Staff suggested redefining the zoning definition of dwelling to include temporary rentals.  

This will be discussed again at the March 1, 2017 Planning Commission meeting at 7pm at the Cheboygan County Building, Commissioners' Room.

UPDATE March 8, 2017

The Planning Commission meeting on March 1 was cancelled due to weather. The topic will be discussed again on the next regular meeting of the Planning Commission at 7pm on March 15 in the County Building, County Commissioners Room when they review the proposed definition of dwelling which would allow for all dwellings to be used temporarily. The following is proposed based on Planning Commission direction:

Dwelling or Dwelling Unit
Any building or portion thereof which is occupied in whole or in part as a home, residence, or sleeping
place, either permanently or temporarily, by one or more families, but not including bed and breakfast,
boarding or lodging houses, resorts, resort hotels, recreation farms, vacation lodges, motor inns,
hotels, motels and other tourist lodging facilities.

UPDATE: April 13, 2017

A public hearing will be held on April 19th, 2017 at 7pm at the Cheboygan County Building, Commissioners Room on this zoning amendment. 



March 9, 2017


Sign regulations are probably one of the most challenging aspects of any local land use ordinances. Signs are very desirable as they provide important information to travelers, promote local businesses, and allow people to express their ideas and beliefs, to practice freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Communities often choose to regulate signs to reduce visual clutter, limit driver distraction, maintain aesthetic character, and implement land use goals of the community. These regulations must abide by the First Amendment and not regulate what is said on those signs. Most recently, a United States Supreme Court case helped to define the limits of a sign ordinance in order to preserve freedom of speech.

The recent Supreme Court case of Reed v Town of Gilbert clarified the extent to which signs must be content neutral. A content neutral sign regulation is one that does not regulate the content of a sign to determine compliance with the ordinance. In other words, a sign can say basically anything that the owner would like to express on that sign without any local laws regulating whether it is or is not legal. A regulation can only determine where that sign can be placed, how big the sign is, how many signs can be on each property, and similar non-content regulations.

There are some minor exceptions such as those signs needed for traffic safety or other narrowly tailored sign rules needed to protect the safety of pedestrians, drivers, and passengers. Street numbers associated with private houses is an example of such a sign.

There are challenges that are created by these types of limits to sign rules. For instance, it is often desirable to have additional signs on property during elections. However, to create a rule that would allow for additional political signage during an election would essentially have to be a content based exception to the rule, which is not permitted.

One might suggest that a community simply exempt all political signs during elections from regulation but continue to regulate commercial signs. However, no such exemption could exist because the sign content would have to be reviewed to determine if it is political or commercial. This exemption could not exist without also exempting all signs from all regulations because to determine if a sign is a political sign requires that we review what the sign says which would be a content based regulation. One can’t define a political sign without talking about content of the sign and, therefore, signs with political messages must not face any additional scrutiny in the law when compared to any other sign with any other message.  

Currently, the County Planning Commission is reviewing the sign regulations and removing content-based regulations to provide signage that promotes everyone’s freedom of speech. These are the challenges that most communities are facing now with regards to sign regulations in the wake of this Supreme Court case and it is a very important process. More information on this and other matters that the County Planning Commission is reviewing can be found at You are welcome to attend these meetings. Please contact the Community Development Department with any questions you may have at 231-627-8489. Your input is valued.

Community Development Director
Steve Schnell
(231) 627-8485

870 South Main Street, Room 103
PO Box 70
Cheboygan, MI 49721
(231) 627-8489
Fax: (231) 627-3646

Mon-Fri, 8am-4pm

Additional Staff
Planner/Zoning Permit Review
Scott McNeil
(231) 627-8475
Soil Erosion Officer
Hank Jankoviak
(231) 627-8427
Planning/Zoning Clerk
Debbie Tomlinson
(231) 627-8489
GIS Technician/Address Assignments
Sharon Weiss
(231) 627-8811
Zoning Enforcement
Keith Wregglesworth
(231) 627-8407