The City of Orchard Lake Village nestles among
sparkling lakes in Oakland County, Michigan, about
25 miles northwest of Detroit. The City is a special
place, made unique by its lakes, great natural beauty,
colorful history, prosperous citizenry and high-
quality residential living.
About 43 percent of the area within the City of
Orchard Lake Village rests underwater. The City
surrounds its namesake, Orchard Lake, but also
includes a portion of Upper Straits Lake and borders,
along its northern limits, the waters of Cass Lake. A
number of smaller lakes, ponds, and wetlands reside
within the community as well. These water features
and their associated woodlands and wildlife have Over the years, Orchard Lake residents have
long attracted settlers to the area – from the Native demonstrated their continuing commitment to
Americans, who hunted and fished among the lakes preserving their unique community by conserving
to the residents of today – who enjoy the beauty, natural areas; crafting regulations that protect trees,
recreational opportunities, and comfortable living lake shores, and open spaces; and authorizing
that the community provides. infrastructure improvements that protect water
quality and quality of life. These continuing efforts
The natural setting marked by these water features have succeeded in preserving and maintaining the
has always commanded respect and admiration. natural character of the community and the lakes,
Throughout the many years of settlement and despite the residential development that has taken
development, residents of the area have recognized place along the lake shores.
the importance of the natural environment and taken
strong steps to protect it. Residential development is another remarkable
feature of Orchard Lake Village. While many
Early settlers such as the Ward family preserved and communities rely on commercial and industrial
protected large areas of forested land for future development to bolster local economies and tax
generations to enjoy. bases, Orchard Lake depends upon its high-quality,
upscale residential development for its economic
base. Only two small commercial areas exist in
Orchard Lake, and they comprise only 1 percent of
the land area in the City. The key to the future of
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 1
Orchard Lake Village is vigilance in maintaining Lake. The name, “Me-nah-sa-gor-ning,” means
and preserving the beauty, quality, and economic “apple place.” In 1825, the island, now known as
stability of the residential environment, as reflected “Apple Island,” became an Indian reservation.
in this Master Plan’s vision statement.
White settlers began to arrive in the 1820s, including
THE VISION STATEMENT Jerome Galloway, who bought Apple Island in 1827
A vision statement clearly and concisely states what after it was ceded to the U.S. Government by the
citizens envision for their community. The vision Indians; Peter Dow and his relatives; Peter Coates;
statement keeps planning efforts in focus and directs Colin Campbell; David Ward; General Joseph T.
the creation of goals, objectives, and planning Copeland; and others.
strategies for the community. The following vision
statement is the foundation of this Master Plan: During the 1850s, the then-remote Orchard Lake
area was established as a Scottish community with
The City of Orchard Lake Village is a numerous summer visitors. The Scottish settlers, in
1832, formed the first curling club in America.
community of incomparable natural
Orchard Lake, being large and round, attracted
beauty, accentuated by pristine lakes,
sailing races and regattas.
woodlands, wetlands and other natural
features. Within this setting, a unique,
Maps 1, 2, and 3 depict West Bloomfield Township
upscale, predominantly residential
and the Orchard Lake community in the years 1896,
community has been created, fostering
1917, and 1930. Evident from these maps is the
among residents a profound sensitivity to
impact certain property owners and their families
the City’s natural features and rich history,
had on development patterns during the early part of
and supported chiefly by its residential the century, largely deterring small lot, cottage-type
economic base. The City strives to sustain development that occurred around other lakes.
this thriving community in the interest of
maintaining an outstanding quality of life The Ward family played a prominent role in the
for all residents far into the future. development of Orchard Lake Village. David Ward,
a doctor, surveyor, lumberman, and farmer,
THE HISTORY OF THE CITY OF accumulated 300 acres of land in the area of what is
ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE now known as Harbor Hills and Wards Pointe. His
two sons became very important figures in the
history of Oakland County, as well as Orchard Lake
As the vision statement reveals, residents of Orchard
Lake Village cherish their history and long-standing
commitment to the community’s environment. Also,
The first son, Henry Clay Ward, born in 1851,
an important part of the planning process is an
occupied a large white-frame home at the
appreciation of historical antecedents of the City.
intersection of Commerce Road and Old Indian
The history of the Orchard Lake community begins
Trail. The old mansion, demolished in the late
with the Native Americans, who were lured by the
1960s, became the home of C.E. Summers, who
area’s beauty and natural resources.
developed the Harbor Hills subdivision.
Before the arrival of the white settlers, the Ottawa
The second son, Willis C. Ward, born in 1862,
Indians enjoyed hunting and fishing throughout the
remained a lifelong resident of Orchard Lake until
area. Indian lore abounds in Orchard Lake,
his death in the 1940s. He was a central figure in
including stories regarding the Ottawa Chief
preserving the natural beauty of the area. Many of
Pontiac, who may have plotted his unsuccessful
the beautiful sights bordering Orchard, Cass, and
siege of Fort Detroit in 1764 on “Me-nah-sa-gor-
Upper Straits Lakes were purchased by Ward and
ning,” the 38-acre island in the center of Orchard
platted by his son-in-law, General F.S. Strong.
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 2
Travel from Detroit to Orchard Lake became easy GOVERNMENT HISTORY
with the arrival of the Grand Trunk railroad and, in
1895, the Interurban. In the mid-19th century, a Prior to 1928, the community now known as the
large summer resort hotel was built on the east end City of Orchard Lake Village was part of West
of the lake. The Orchard Lake Hotel was patronized Bloomfield Township. The residents of the
by the elite of Detroit. community voted (92 in favor, 5 against) on March
19, 1928, to incorporate as Orchard Lake Village.
After the economic panic of 1873, the hotel was sold On December 8, 1964, residents of the Village voted
to Colonel J. Sumner Rogers, who established the to become a city, and S.F. Leahy served as the first
Orchard Lake Military Academy – the first miliary mayor. The City Charter places legislative and
academy in Michigan. The academy, in the early governing powers in the hands of a seven-member
1900s, became a Polish seminary, now St. Mary’s elected City Council. The Council annually elects
Preparatory, St. Mary’s College, and S.S. Cyril and one Council person to serve as Mayor.
Methodius Seminary, known commonly as The
Orchard Lake Schools.
Another area landmark is the Orchard Lake DEVELOPMENT PHASES
Community Church – Presbyterian, located on the
north shore of Orchard Lake, which was started by The residential development history of Orchard Lake
Colin Campbell in 1871 and completed on July 18, Village falls into distinct phases. The initial
1872. It was the only church in the area at the time. development phase was as a resort community, with
many properties used as cabins, cottages or second
Campbell’s youngest son, Forest Campbell, and his homes for Detroit-area residents. The second phase
wife Caroline owned and lived on Apple Island, was marked by growth of the Detroit metropolitan
selling it with the life estate to Willis Ward in 1916. area to the north and west, which caused Orchard
Ward’s son-in-law, General Strong, donated the Lake Village to become more suburban in character.
island to the West Bloomfield School District in Property owners began converting second homes or
1970, and it became the Marjorie Ward Strong building new homes for year-round use and began
Woodland Sanctuary. commuting to jobs in Detroit and other area
The Ward family was instrumental in preserving
another prominent parcel in its natural state when, in In the third development phase, property owners
1969, Harold Ward donated 35 acres of wooded sought larger, higher quality homes. Older homes
property at the northwest corner of Old Orchard were demolished or remodeled, and in some areas
Trail and Pontiac Trail to the Cranbrook Institute of (particularly in Zoning District 1) lots were
Science. The Institute acquired another 15 acres combined to achieve more spacious development
from Ward in 1978. In 1992, the Cranbrook Nature parcels. That trend seems to be reversing somewhat
Center was acquired by the City and renamed the today – in a fourth phase, perhaps – as some
Orchard Lake Nature Sanctuary. Residents of the residents begin to split their large lots into smaller
City agreed to impose taxation on themselves to lots for the development of additional home sites.
purchase the property for about $5 million. The
residents desired to perpetuate the property as a The City of Orchard Lake Village has grown to 776
nature preserve, as it was intended years before by households according to SEMCOG – near capacity
the Ward family. As a natural preserve and for the City. It is the legacy of the current residents
important green space in Orchard Lake, the to carry forward the rich history of the small
Sanctuary provides a continuing habitat for animals community and to preserve the natural endowment
and plants, as well as a visual and recreational enjoyed by the Indian tribes and early settlers. As
Willis Ward believed, the residents of the City
amenity for the community.
should feel grateful to those who have gone before
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 3
them to preserve the native forest growth around the instituted a more formal development review
community’s lakes, and the charm and tranquility of process, recognizing that appealing characteristics of
the residential community. the City were being altered by new development.
PLANNING FOR THE CITY OF In the 1990s, the installation of water and sanitary
sewer systems -- done as a means of protecting the
ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE water quality of the lakes -- accelerated the pace of
development and redevelopment, and made the need
Prior to 1956, municipal planning and zoning for an updated Master Plan more apparent. Paving
activity was limited; development was essentially of roads, by improving the appearance of certain
entrusted to a relatively few property owners. The neighborhoods, may also have contributed to the
community forayed into land use regulation in 1956, accelerated growth.
upon adoption of its first zoning ordinance.
Residents of the then-Village voted to become a city
in 1964. The initial city government passed
ordinances to maintain large home sites, upgrade
zoning restrictions, address pollution and littering,
and limit dredging and filling.
The City of Orchard Lake Village formed a Planning
Commission in 1980, which was permanently
constituted by the City Charter revision approval on
November 3, 1981. The Planning Commission and
the City Council, recognizing the need to guide local
zoning, land subdivision, land usage and street
access, as well as meet the state’s mandate, quickly
moved to provide Orchard Lake Village with a
The City Council authorized the preparation of a
City Master Plan by the Planning Commission in
March 1981. The Municipal Planning Act, Act 285
of the Michigan Public Acts of 1931, as amended,
requires the Planning Commission to make and
adopt a basic plan as a guide for physical
development of the City.
The 1982 Master Plan for the City of Orchard Lake
Village set forth existing characteristics, land use
problems and potentials, development goals and
objectives, and future land use recommendations for
the City. The 1982 plan, like this document, reflects
residents’ desires as well as sound municipal
Following adoption of the 1982 Master Plan,
Orchard Lake Village experienced continued
development of vacant residential areas and
redevelopment of existing residential properties,
particularly lakefront homes. The community
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 4
Map 1: West Bloomfield Township in 1896
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 5
Map 2: West Bloomfield Township in 1917
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 6
Map 3: West Bloomfield Township in 1930
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 7
THE MASTER PLAN
The City of Orchard Lake Village initiated an update
of the community’s Master Plan in 1997, beginning
with a thorough review of the 1982 Plan by the
Planning Commission. The residential-oriented
community, feeling development pressure and a
need to protect its high quality of life and natural
environment, determined its 1982 Master Plan
required updating to better respond to future growth,
development, and redevelopment. The Master Plan,
contained in this document, represents the
commitment of the City and its residents to preserve
the unique quality of the residential environment,
which is the Master Plan’s primary and overriding
The Master Plan is the result of data collection and
analysis, meetings, and discussions by the Planning
Commission and City Council, and input from
Orchard Lake Village residents. It consists of text,
charts, maps, and analysis regarding development of
the community. The Future Land Use Map provides
the basis for the Zoning Map and Zoning Ordinance.
This Master Plan update does not propose huge
changes in the community. However, the Master
Plan examines issues and seeks solutions to
problems that face the City, such as excessive traffic,
possible future development of large acreage
parcels, the scale of residential development, and the
fiscal impacts of various development patterns.
The 1999 plan was updated in 2006 to reflect
significant changes over the past five years. The
2006 update includes consideration of the Orchard
Lake Road Corridor Study, the change in fire and
emergency medical services, Federal stormwater
regulations, the City Capital Plan, the impact of the
emerald ash borer on the trees in the City, and the
impact of increased traffic from development north
of the City and from completion of M-5 west of the
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 8
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
A statement of general goals and objectives will help GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
guide the City through the planning and
implementation process. It is important to set goals
and objectives because they: 1) help achieve Goal 1 – Maintain residential quality and
consensus on the purpose of the Master Plan and the character.
desired outcome; 2) provide a guide for zoning and
capital improvement decisions; 3) provide a Objectives:
framework for evaluating current and future
planning and development issues. ! Maintain an appropriate scale and
density of residential land use.
Goals are general in nature and are statements of
ideals toward which the City wishes to strive. They ! Maintain high standards of site and
represent the ultimate purpose of the planning effort, building design.
stated in a way that is broad and immeasurable.
! Encourage new construction that is
Objectives are more specific and present a means of
compatible in scale and design with
attaining the stated goals. Objectives take the form
existing housing and that minimizes
of more measurable standards, or they specify the
alteration to natural site
way in which the goals can be achieved. Objectives
are often specific statements which can be readily
translated into detailed design proposals or action
Together, the following vision, goals and objectives
provide the foundation of the Master Plan and a
framework for future implementation strategies.
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 9
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
! Encourage the development of Objectives:
housing to satisfy all segments of
the population. ! Seek a mix of commercial and
office uses that address the needs of
Goal 2 – Preserve and enhance the natural Orchard Lake residents.
environment and water quality.
! Encourage high quality of
Objectives: commercial and office site design,
development and redevelopment,
! Encourage the preservation of including landscaping, that is
existing woodlands, wetlands and consistent with the City’s character.
trees, and promote street tree
planting to help preserve the natural ! Encourage continual maintenance
setting for residential areas. and aesthetic improvements by
commercial property owners.
! Maintain the trees and vegetation
around the City’s lakes, and prevent
! Promote coordination of design,
encroachment of housing and other
traffic and parking between
development closer to the lake edge.
! Provide for the protection of the
lakes in the City from the dangers of ! Prevent proliferation of signs and
pollution, untreated and other graphics that clutter and
uncontrolled stormwater run-off, degrade the appearance of the
overuse and misuse. commercial corridor.
! Protect the vistas and overlooks ! Encourage formation of a business
provided to the residents and the organization to coordinate and fund
public from vantage points along the commercial improvements and
lakes. activities, and to prepare a business
! Coordinate water quality efforts
with other communities and Goal 4 – Maintain the high quality of public and
government agencies that share the utility services.
shoreline of the lakes or have
regulatory authority over the lakes, Objectives:
such as Keego Harbor, Waterford
Township, West Bloomfield ! Permit development only if it is
Township, the Oakland County within the capacity of the City’s
Drain Commissioner, the Road sanitary sewer and water systems.
Commission for Oakland County,
and the MDEQ. ! Encourage regular maintenance and
development of adequate utility
systems (water and sewer systems;
Goal 3 – Encourage a vibrant and attractive electric, telephone and gas services;
business and office district. and cable television) throughout the
City, consistent with the goal of
enhancing the residential
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 10
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
! Annually update the Financial Plan Goal 6 – Ensure ongoing community planning
and Model (the Capital Plan) for the and the implementation of Master Plan
City, and seek ways to implement recommendations.
! Seek the cooperation of utility
companies, the Fire Authority, the ! Review, update, and amend the
West Bloomfield School District, zoning and subdivision regulations
and other companies or to address the goals and objectives
organizations that provide public of the Master Plan.
services to Orchard Lake, to
maintain the visual appeal of their ! Recommend priorities for long-
facilities in accordance with high range capital improvements
standards of site design and programming.
! Update the Master Plan on a regular
! Maintain an informative and basis to address changing
interesting City web site. conditions, redevelopment
proposals, and the development of
Goal 5 – Maintain a functional road system that new needs by residents.
is sized to meet the needs of a small residential
community. ! Cooperate with nearby communities
through the exchange of information
Objectives: on development and redevelopment
issues, and other shared interests,
! Resist efforts to reconstruct and including implementation of the
widen roads to increase their Orchard Lake Corridor Plan.
capacity and speeds because of the
deleterious impact such roads have Goal 7 – Protect the character, history and
on the residential neighborhoods. integrity of the City.
! Continue to work with the Road ! Continually educate the public on
Commission for Oakland County to the value to the community of the
improve intersection design, lakes and other natural and
signage, and signalization historical features, and promote
throughout the City. wise and responsible use of these
resources and features.
! Work with the Road Commission
for Oakland County and adjacent ! Promote the interests of the City and
communities on transportation residents in issues involving state or
improvements that would minimize federal authority, or the authority of
the impacts of through-traffic and its other jurisdictional agencies.
! Accommodate non-motorized
transportation through construction
of sidewalks and bike paths where
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN Page 11
LAND USE ANALYSIS
A fundamental procedure to the formulation of a The following is a brief definition of each of the
community Master Plan is an analysis of existing land use categories:
land uses. This analysis not only identifies what and
where particular uses are, but also highlights where
future development might occur and where land use Single Family – This classification includes
conflicts may exist or develop. parcels or portions of parcels having one-family
The City of Orchard Lake Village is unique in
relation to land use. The City’s small size, large Commercial – This classification includes a
lakes, limited roads, and existing residential cross-section of retail, service, and office
development severely limit its ability to grow and establishments satisfying the day-to-day needs
develop. The City, due to its almost “built out” of residents of the City and surrounding area.
nature, is unable to accommodate a full and typical
range of land uses while maintaining its residential
charm and quality of life. Public – Land parcels that are owned by or
serve the public at large are classified as Public
Yet the City feels development pressure. The land use, such as City offices, public schools,
installation of water and sewer systems has made and fire stations. Land parcels used as open
some sites, previously unusable for septic systems, space and outdoor recreation also are included in
available for development. Also, a number of this classification, such as the Orchard Lake
residential properties are being combined and Nature Sanctuary.
redeveloped, creating concerns about scale and
building heights within the community’s natural
surroundings. Quasi-Public – This classification includes land
parcels that are of a public nature in types of
These are among the concerns that are identified in use, but serve only a portion of the public or are
the inventory and analysis of existing land uses, privately owned. Examples of Quasi-Public
which form a basis from which municipal land use uses are private country clubs, private schools,
policies can be developed. Map 4, Existing Land churches, and subdivision outlots.
Use, delineates land use classifications, including:
Single Family, Commercial, Public, Quasi-Public,
Water/Wetlands (not including Cass, Orchard and
Upper Straits Lakes) and Vacant.
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN PAGE 12
LAND USE ANALYSIS
Water/Wetlands – This classification includes Underscoring the investments made by City
small lakes, ponds, and wetland areas located residents is the total “State Equalized Valuation” of
throughout the City; Orchard Lake, Upper land and property within the City. Because the City
Straits Lake, and Cass Lake are not included in is nearly developed to its capacity, the increased
this classification. Water/wetlands areas valuation of City property largely is due to
typically are not suitable for development, and rebuilding and home improvements. Since 1986, the
often are worthy of preservation or protection. State Equalized Valuation of the community has
increased by almost a factor of five, increasing from
Vacant – Land not used for any of the above $86,732,400 to $419,027,950 in 2005. (See Table 1)
defined purposes is considered vacant. This
classification includes undeveloped property. The City of Orchard Lake offers the four following
single family zoning classifications:
Table 2 shows the existing land use classifications
used in this study and the acreage falling within each District Minimum Lot Size
category. The following is a discussion of the Zone 1 15,000 sq. ft.
notable issues in the community regarding land use. Zone 2 20,000 sq. ft.
Zone 3 40,000 sq. ft.
Zone 4 60,000 sq. ft.
LAND USE ISSUES AND ANALYSIS
Within the community, lots range from very large
SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENTIAL lakefront properties to the narrow and irregular lots
of Shady Beach Heights, Shady Beach, and R.C.
About 64 percent of the land area in the City (35 Bankers subdivisions, which provide residential
percent of total acreage), or 908 acres, is currently diversity and variety to the single family housing
developed as Single Family Residential land use. mix. The variety of home types offers housing
Single family residential areas in Orchard Lake are opportunities for households of different sizes and
characterized by the overall quality of housing and requirements.
residential areas, the variety of lot sizes and
architectural styles, and the willingness of home In recent years, new single-family development in
owners to make substantial investments in their the Orchard Lake community has been concentrated
properties. in Zone 3, which provides large, spacious lots of
40,000 square feet or larger. Since 1983, Zone 3 has
by far been the preference of residents for new
housing construction, as noted in Table 3.
During the 1980s, residential development and
redevelopment was concentrated in the Orchard
Lake Woodlands, Hickory Pointe and Deer Run
subdivisions on the southern edge of the City. The
1990s has been marked by scattered infill
development and redevelopment, based on building
permit information provided by the City. The most
recent residential development, Windstream
subdivision, offered 25 lots ranging in size from
13,733 to 21,580 sq. ft.
CITY OF ORCHARD LAKE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN PAGE 13
LAND USE ANALYSIS
STATE EQUALIZED VALUATION (2005)
State Equalized Value SEV as a Percent
Land Use (SEV) of Total
Commercial $13,463,860 3.20%
Utility $452,150 0.11%
MDNR Boat Launch Site $688,660 0.16%
Residential – Lakefront $273,998,720 65.10%
Residential – Non-Lakefront $127,095,190 30.18%
Personal Property $5,209,520 1.24%
Totals $420,908,100 100%
Source: City Assessor (3/31/05)
The large, wooded lots with attractive homes maintaining natural assets and the open character of
characterize the residential atmosphere of Orchard the community. Even with the limitations resulting
Lake Village, but even in more dense from the small size of the community, Orchard Lake
neighborhoods, there is a secluded, lake-oriented Village has provided for a greater range in density
atmosphere. The current zoning classifications have than many other communities that have a much
adequately preserved the residential character while, larger land area.
based on the building permit data, offering ample
development options for what little available land Only a few, scattered parcels remain for single
remains. family development, and most of these contain small
lakes, wetlands or other features which make them
The 1982 Master Plan observed that single family difficult to develop. New development continues,
residential development is the most appropriate use however, as property owners tear down existing
to achieve preservation and wise use of natural houses and rebuild.
environmental assets throughout the community.
Also, within the relatively small land area available
for residential development, it would be extremely A major challenge facing the City is to permit
difficult to provide for a greater range in density, yet residential development, but in a way that protects
still achieve compatibility between adjoining density existing residents’ views of the lakes; protects the
classifications, and accomplish the goal of
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