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Special Assessment District

An established geographic boundary of waterfront properties along or near a body of water and backlot properties with dedicated legal access

Indian Lake Boundaries

Gulliver Lake Boundaries

McDonald Lake Boundaries

Wooden House

Under Part 307, Inland Lakes, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, the property owners of parcels in a special assessment district may finance the costs associated with maintaining the legal levels of a lake. While there can be other funding sources such as grants, the government and private donors, the special assessment district is the primary source of funding to maintain the lake level.

The special assessment districts will contain privately owned parcels of land, subdivisions, and state and locally owned land around and near the bodies of water.

  • Waterfront lots

  • Backlots with dedicated or deeded access

  • Residential lots

  • Condos and apartments

  • Hotels

  • Cabins

  • Mobile homes

  • Campgrounds

  • Commercial lots

  • Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land

Map of UP.PNG

Special Assessment

May Fund Cost to Maintain Legal Lake Level

Once special assessment district boundaries are confirmed by the circuit court, the county may determine that the whole or a part of the cost of a project to establish and maintain the legal level for a lake shall be defrayed by special assessments against the parcels in the district.

Assessments are Based on Benefit

Once the special assessment district boundaries are established, the county will develop a special assessment methodology that determines how much each property owner pays for their parcel(s) based on how the parcel(s) benefits from the lake level (i.e., a waterfront parcel likely has a greater benefit than a backlot). The methodology must be approved at a public hearing and by the county board of commissioners.

The Property Owner's Role

State law does not give the public the ability to vote on the establishment of a lake level special assessment district or lake level assessments, however there are many opportunities for public input and property owners have a right to appeal their assessment in court. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the process for establishing a special assessment district?
    The county passes a resolution to initiate the process to establish special assessment district (SAD) boundaries. Engineers review the area around the lake (including plats and deeds) and talk to the county and township assessors to determine which properties benefit from the lake level. The delegated authority files a petition in the county circuit court to establish a SAD. The court sets a date for a hearing to amend the lake level order. Property owners within the proposed SAD boundaries will receive a letter in the mail informing them of the hearing date and that their parcel is being considered for inclusion. At the hearing, the judge reviews all comments and testimony then decides to approve or deny the motion to amend the lake level order to establish SAD boundaries.
  • Is the lake level special assessment district the same as a weed control district?
    No, these are not the same. A different law governs weed treatment special assessment districts (SAD). It's likely that a weed treatment SAD will have different boundaries than a lake level SAD.
  • Does the public get to vote on this?
    State law does not give property owners or the public an opportunity to vote on the establishment of a lake level special assessment district or assessment amount, however there are many opportunities throughout the process to provide input and opinions.
  • What is a special assessment?
    A special assessment is a fee that appears on your property's winter tax bill to pay for all costs related to the operation, maintenance and repairs necessary for the lake level.
  • When will the special assessment amount be determined?
    The special assessment amount that each property owner pays will be determined at a public hearing and also must be approved by the County Board of Commissioners. The County cannot estimate assessments prior to a district being created as it will not know how many properties will be in the district which is necessary to determine how costs will be spread.
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