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Belleville Lake



Shoreline Permits


Lake front homeowners that plan to make any changes to the shoreline need to read this section carefully. Included in this section is background information on the lake, information on Van Buren Township Permits/Permission, MDEQ Permits, and Soil Erosion Control Permits.



Detroit Edison purchased property along the Huron River and constructed the French Landing Dam in 1924.  The flooding of this property created Belleville Lake, and the dam was used to generate hydroelectric power.  This is a "run of the river" project, which minimizes lake level fluctuation. The water level is maintained by the dam at elevations between 650.40 and 650.80 feet above sea level.


Though the property was flooded, property rights remained with Detroit Edison. Riparian is defined as "of, on or relating to the banks of a natural course of water."  Traditional riparian rights do not apply because Belleville Lake is an impoundment.


Detroit Edison offered ownership of the dam and other properties to Van Buren Township in 1972.  The offer was brought before the township voters, who formally approved the proposal.  Ownership of these properties was transferred to Van Buren Township at that time.  The Township owns the shoreline below the 655í contour line or the brow of the hill.


Belleville Lake is a popular site for a variety of outdoor recreational activities.  It is also a highly desirable residential location.  Recreational demands and developmental pressures increase each year, yet the total amount of public land and water area remains fixed.  Sound management is necessary to provide optimum use of finite resources.


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted a license, FERC No.9951-000-Michigan, to Van Buren Township for the French Landing Hydroelectric Project. The Lake is a seven-mile long, 1,270-acre impoundment with a water storage capacity of 17,780 acre-feet. This license recognizes the Township's authority to grant permission for certain types of use and occupancy of project lands and waters provided they are consistent with the purpose of protecting and enhancing the scenic, recreational and other environmental values of the FERC project.


It is the desire of Van Buren Township to allow the non-commercial use of township property and Belleville Lake, by adjacent upland property owners, for recreational purposes consistent with zoning regulations.




No improvements, modifications or structure of any kind, shall be constructed, installed or made on township property (defined as the 655ícontour line or brow of the hill) before having first requested permission from the Township.  This shall include but is not limited to, docks, boat hoists, boat houses, boardwalks, piers, seawalls, decks, stairs, cluster mooring facilities, marinas or other similar facilities.  This also applies to any launching ramp or fuel dispensing system for boats.  Permission to remove trees, vegetation, and/or make topographical modifications is also required.


      Upon applying for permission from the Township, please submit the following:


  1. A cover letter, which summarizes proposed improvements and/or modifications,

  2. A site plan which shows the boundaries of the adjacent upland lot, the location of the proposed installation and the location of the shoreline.  A copy of a mortgage survey from the upland lot should also be included

  3. Plans, drawn to scale, showing the height, length, width and configuration of the proposed installation.

  4. Whether covered or uncovered (enclosed or open).

  5. Specified materials for use in construction or installation.

  6. Water depth at the farthest point of projection.

  7. Distance from the farthest point of projection to the opposite shore (This is necessary only when this distance is less than 500 feet).  

Any structure on the land (e.g. boardwalk, deck, etc.) will require a building permit from the Township Building Department.


Please keep in mind when designing your shoreline project that the Township very strongly encourages minimum impact to the natural vegetation and contour of the shoreline.  Please refer to the Shoreline Management section of this website when considering your design. 


Any alterations at or below the water's edge or in wetlands will require also require MDEQ approval.  Please note that you must first receive permission from the Township before you receive a permit from the MDEQ.  Visit the MDEQ Land and Water Resource Division to learn more and to download application forms: Land and Water Management Divisionís Joint Permit Application or they can be reached at (734) 953-1482.

Any earth change/disturbance over one (1) acre in size and/or within 500 feet of a water of the state, (lake, stream, wetland, drain) within Wayne County needs a Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control (S.E.S.C.) Permit.  Visit the Wayne County Department of Environment, Land Resource Management Division site to find out more information and to download an application or they can be reached at (734) 326-3936







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