Community Development

Frequently Asked Questions

Building Frequently Asked Questions
Code Enforcement Frequently Asked Questions

Driveway Expansion
Accessory Stuctures
Swimming Pools
Home Occupations
Covenants and Deed Restrictions


Prior to the construction, reconstruction or establishment of a fence, wall or screen, you must obtain a Zoning Compliance permit. The fee is $25.  *Please note that verification of property lines are the sole responsibility of the property owner. The Township does not purport to know the precise boundaries of any property, nor is any implication made that said property lines will be verified by the Township.*

All fences within the front yard shall be no more than three feet in height. Plant materials within 30 feet of the edge of the pavement of a public street shall not obstruct visibility at a level between three and eight feet. No fence, hedge or wall greater than six feet is permitted within any side or rear yard setback. On a corner lot, a fence, wall or hedge planting cannot exceed three feet in the street side yard, unless specific conditions are met. Fences shall be constructed so that support members face the interior of the lot (good side out). Please contact us at 791-9865 so that we can explain these conditions and offer to meet you on site.

All fences shall be maintained in their upright condition. Missing boards, pickets or posts shall be replaced in a timely manner with material of the same type and quality.

Policy for Driveway Expansion and Residential Parking
(Created July 10, 2013)

At the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on May 22, 2013, an interpretation was made regarding the storage of recreational vehicles on certain surfaces.  As a result of that meeting, an interpretation was made that recreational vehicles should be parked on hard surfaces, such as concrete, asphalt, or pavers.  In order to provide additional guidance, staff finds it important to provide a policy for driveway expansions and residential parking expansions.  This is because often residential drives and/or parking pads adjacent to residential drives may be used for recreational vehicle storage.  Our overriding goal is ensuring that the parking surface is a durable material that prevents weed and grass growth, that is constructed/installed in such a way that allows both the parking surface and the surrounding area to be adequately maintained, and does not create drainage issues.

General Standards

Any expanded drive, parking space, or parking pad shall remove the grass and/or landscaping material.  The area on which a vehicle will park shall be surfaced with concrete, asphalt, stone, or concrete pavers with an adequately prepared base or three inches of crushed stone, aggregate, or other approved surface.

There is no minimum distance an expanded parking area is required to be from any side property line.  Parking expansions, etc., should be constructed and installed in such a way as to not create or exacerbate drainage issues.

Any expanded drive, parking space, or parking pad should have a clearly defined edge or border.  This does not require the installation of an actual landscaped border, fence, or something similar to landscaping timber.  It does, however, require that the expanded drive have a clear, defined edge that allows for the area around the parking pad, driveway expansion, etc., to be adequately maintained.

Accessory Structures

Accessory Structure Brochure

Two detached accessory structures are permitted per parcel. No attached or detached accessory structure may be used as a dwelling or for any business, profession, trade or occupation. Building permits are required for all accessory structures, including garages, storage sheds, and other similar uses that are greater than 200 square feet. A $25 Zoning Compliance Permit is required for all accessory buildings, sheds, and similar uses less than 200 square feet.  Freestanding accessory structures that are greater than 600 square feet or those with an eave height of more than 10 feet require a foundation system that extends 42 inches below grade.

Lots containing less than 10,400 square feet may have one detached accessory structure not exceeding 720 square feet, and a second structure not exceeding 144 square feet.

Lots greater than 10,400 square feet but less than one acre in size may add 20 square feet to the larger accessory structure for every 1,000 square feet of lot area exceeding 10,400 square feet, with a maximum size of 1,200 square feet.

Parcels that are one acre in size or greater may have one detached accessory structure not exceeding the ground area of the principal dwelling, excluding porches and patios. The other accessory structure shall not exceed 144 square feet.

Accessory structures must be placed on a parcel in accordance with the zoning ordinance. All accessory structures shall be located behind the front building line of the principle structure on the lot or parcel of land. If the lot is located on a corner, the accessory structure shall comply with the street side yard setbacks of the principle structure on the lot (typically 30 feet).

If an accessory structure is no greater than 144 square feet, it is permitted within two feet of the side or rear property lines. A detached accessory structure that is 720 square feet or less may be no closer than 8 feet to any side yard, at least 5 feet from a rear property line and at least 10 feet from the principle structure.

An accessory structure than is greater than 720 square feet must comply with the side and rear yard setbacks for principle structures in the same district.

Swimming Pools

A building permit is required for all in ground pools, above ground pools, hot tubs and spas that are filled to a depth in excess of 24 inches. Also, depending on the scope of related work, electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits may need to be secured.

Pool houses shall comply with all accessory structure rules.

Elevated decks 12 inches or less above grade constructed adjacent to pool may encroach up to 2 feet from the property line. Otherwise, they follow the accessory structure guidelines and building code.

In-ground pools, above-ground pools, spas and hot tubs that require a building permit shall be provided with a barrier that complies with Appendix "G" of the 2003 Michigan Residential Code. The variables and circumstances involved with the installation of pools, spas and hot tubs are individual and unique. Therefore, each installation should be reviewed by the Code Official on a case by case basis prior to the commencement of work.

Swimming pool, spas and hot tubs with suction outlets shall be plumbed to protect against user entrapment.

General barrier guidelines are as follows:

Barriers need to be 48 inches minimum above the adjacent grade or an approved cover.Pool side walls may serve as a barrier if at least 48 inches above adjacent grade. Barriers need to be solid or have properly spaced spindles, pickets or wire mesh. Pedestrian gates need to be self-closing and self-latching. Access gates need to be lockable.When the wall of a structure serves as all or part of a barrier, the wall and any opening needs to comply with the items listed above.

Livestock and other small animals

Typically, the raising of small livestock animals, including chickens, is not permitted on residential properties within Saginaw Township.  Only in specific cases and in areas zoned appropriately is this allowed.

From the Zoning Ordinance:

Uses permitted by “right” in properties zoned A-2 (Agricultural.):
“Specialized farming including the raising and keeping of small animals and livestock, provided that such livestock are fenced in or otherwise prevented from roaming at large off premises.” (Sec 902.3)

Under special conditions for properties zoned R-1A (Residential Suburban Low Density):
“Customary farm animals except swine, poultry, rabbits, etc., and dogs other than household pets may be kept on a noncommercial basis when adequately housed and fenced on a parcel of land not less than five acres.” (Sec 1103.4.d)

Please contact the Community Development Department or consult the Zoning Ordinance for further information.


Home Occupations

Home occupations are permitted in Saginaw Charter Township however they are subject to specific standards, including:

Any home occupation shall employ not more than one person other than those persons residing on the premises where the home occupation is to be operated.Any home occupation shall be operated entirely within the principal dwelling and shall have no separate entrance from outside the building. No home occupation nor storage of goods, materials, equipment or products associated with a home occupation shall be permitted in any building, structure, attached or detached garage or open area other than within the principal dwelling.No retail sales shall be permitted on the premises, with the exception that telephone orders or other orders taken off the premises may be filled on the premises.The operation of a home occupation shall not involve alteration or construction not customarily found in a dwelling, nor shall a home occupation use more than twenty-five (25%) percent of the total actual first floor area of the dwelling; exclusive of porches, garages and similar areas.Home occupations shall generate no noise, odor, vibration or electrical interference beyond that level normally associated with residential land use, nor shall a home occupation require, involve or utilize any mechanical or electrical equipment except that which is normally used for purely domestic or household purposes.Home occupations shall not generate traffic in volumes greater than that level normally associated with residential land uses.Any parking demand generated by the conduct of a home occupation shall be met off the street and other than in a required front, side or rear yard. Such parking shall not exceed two (2) parking spaces exclusive of parking required herein for the residential use of the dwelling, and such parking shall be paved with a dust free material. There shall be no deliveries to or from a home occupation with a vehicle with a rated capacity of greater than one (1) ton. A Saginaw Township Business License shall be required of all home occupations.

Covenants and Deed Restrictions

If you are buying a new home, be sure to obtain a copy of any covenants and restrictions. Most builders and/or their sales offices provided copies of covenants, restrictions and all other riders (maintenance agreements, etc.) with the purchase agreement. Realtors will provide covenants and restrictions if requested. Title companies disclose the existence of covenants by listing the recorded documents (Liber and page) on the title commitment. The title company will often only provide a complete copy of the covenants and restrictions ahead of time if it was a condition of the purchase agreement. Typically, covenants are requested in about one out of every five closings. Any one can request a copy of deed restrictions and covenants through the Saginaw County Clerk's office.

Covenants and deed restrictions, including subdivision restrictions, are private, contractual agreements and violations of the covenants and restrictions are civil actions between the homeowners' association or an individual property owner making a complaint and the property owner who is allegedly in violation of the by-laws or covenants and restrictions. The process is typically as follows:

The complaining party (the Association) would normally send a letter to the owner and inform them of the specific violation and provide a time frame for resolution.If the violation is not remedied, a civil action (lawsuit) would be filed in Circuit Court.The action which would normally be requested is for injunctive relief, or causing the violation to stop and be remedied. A trial judge could issue an order which could be a restraint order, a temporary injunction (if immediate risk of injury is present or a dangerous nuisance is found) after a pre-trial, and a permanent injunction and/or after the final hearing.