Eagle Harbor Township
Issues and Opportunities
Issue: Major Land Divestitures.
Lake Superior Land Company, a division of International Paper, the owner of the majority of all lands in Eagle Harbor Township, is now divesting large parcels of undeveloped land and lakeshore. These parcels have historically been accessible to the public for recreational pursuits through CFR designation and the benevolence of the owner. . Public recreation land that we have long taken for granted now seems at risk.
Issue: Waterfront Access.
Eagle Harbor Township has become a highly desired second or retirement home choice, with much of this new home development occurring along our Superior lakeshore and around our inland lakes and streams. Continued general public access to or enjoyment of these water-related areas is threatened.
Issue: Water Quality.
Most of the existing housing, as well as much of the new housing within Eagle Harbor Township is located on lands adjacent or directly tributary to the our inland lakes, our streams, our harbors and our many miles of Lake Superior shoreline. Many of our older seasonal homes, served by decades old septic systems, are being converted into permanent or extended season properties. This intensified development pattern increases the potential for contamination, threatening adjacent waters and groundwater, and may result in the need for expensive investments in pollution control facilities. This development pressure also has the potential of placing many of our wetlands at risk, wetlands that serve as storage areas for runoff and provide critical habitat for our indigenous flora and fauna.
Issue: Recreational Resources.
Anticipated growth in our permanent, seasonal and visitor populations will place added pressure on many of our recreational resources that are of limited supply, such as our swimming beaches, our boating facilities, and our recreational trails. Unless these and similar resources are well maintained, well managed, and appropriately expanded, our use and enjoyment of them may be severely jeopardized.
Issue: County Government Decisions.
Eagle Harbor Township, like other County townships, has traditionally had little influence County government decisions on planning, zoning, and development regulation within our community. Our chosen Township development vision, to be a residential community for permanent and seasonal residents, is often perceived to be inconsistent with County development policy. Unless we are highly effective in articulating and advocating our chosen vision, development objectives and strategies, and County planners and elected officials demonstrate greater flexibility and responsiveness to the choices neighborhoods and communities make in defining their character and development patterns, our ability to achieve our chosen vision will be significantly diminished.
Issue: Tax Burden.
Most of the developed property within Eagle Harbor Township is owned by individuals who occupy the properties only seasonally. These owners often perceive that they derive less benefit from many tax-supported public services desired and needed by our permanent residents. And because seasonal residents are not eligible for tax assistance programs, such as homestead exemptions, these owners pay disproportional higher taxes. In the absence of effective communication of shared service benefits, the continued support by all property owners for the public services and projects needed to serve a growing permanent population, including programs intended to implement our community development plans, may be at risk.
Opportunity. Forests – Recreation and Jobs.
Much of the forested land within Eagle Harbor Township is expected to continue to serve as a growing and harvesting resource for our area’s wood products industry. This offers the opportunity for large tracts of forestland to remain available for recreational purposes, and, as importantly, the opportunity for our township to continue to be a major source of jobs for Keweenaw workers and an important contributor to the economic well being of Keweenaw County.
Opportunity. Tax Base Growth and Economic Contribution.
Other areas of Keweenaw County are appropriately pursuing commercial, industrial and tourism related development to strengthen our County tax base and economy. Eagle Harbor Township is making its own contribution by capitalizing on the strength and draw of the Township’s abundant and unique natural and recreational assets. We are keeping our development focus on maintaining the Township as a highly desired place for permanent and seasonal residency. This development focus and strategy is causing people to choose to invest themselves and their personal wealth in our Township, in the process producing substantial growth in County tax base, providing hundreds of jobs for area realtors, builders and other development related trades, and establishing a significant ongoing customer base for area businesses. Successful implementation of our Township’s development vision, objectives and strategies can establish Eagle Harbor Township as a major contributor to County tax base growth and to the economic well being of all County residents. It’s a unique opportunity, not only for our Township, but, of even greater importance, for Keweenaw County.
Opportunity: Preserving Natural Resources and Recreation Properties.
Several national and regional conservancy organizations are actively engaged in identifying and protecting many of Eagle Harbor Township’s most important natural assets, and our township government, in conjunction with state and federal grant funders, is moving aggressively to preserve many of our most important recreational properties. We have strong partners and a committed township government in our quest for preserving our natural and recreational assets.
Eagle Harbor Township is the site of many of the Copper Country’s most historically significant structures and sites. These places, carefully preserved and interpreted by our Historical Society and other private and public interests, offer significant opportunity for linking our residents and visitors with our community’s rich and interesting history. Their presence adds significantly to the character of our community.
Opportunity: Physical Characteristics.
The physical characteristics of Eagle Harbor Township - our fifteen miles of spectacular billion year-old basalt Lake Superior shoreline, the extensive volcanic cobble and sand beaches, the great dunes of Sand Bay, the heavily forested ridges of the Keweenaw uplift, the many beautiful lakes, streams and harbors that lie within our borders, as well as the historic and small town feel of our developed residential communities - are all significant and in many ways unique community assets. They combine to make our community a highly desired choice for residency, vacation and visiting. We have the opportunity to continue to enjoy and perpetuate this physical character through responsible and enlightened stewardship.
Opportunity: Rich sources of skills, volunteer support, and leadership.
Many of the growing number of second and retirement home owners in Eagle Harbor Township are men and women with considerable experience and interest in community involvement – representing a rich source of skills, volunteer support, and leadership for our public and non-profit organizations.
There is strong support for comprehensive land use planning and effective development management within Eagle Harbor Township, and substantial agreement with our stated planning vision, objectives and strategies. Our cohesiveness is a major plus for achieving positive outcomes.