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Cottage Site Leasing Program

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) Natural Resources and Land Management Leasing Program includes more than 1,205 parcels of property at eight lakes for private homes, commonly called “cottage sites” by the MWCD staff. Under terms of the program, homeowners lease the property from the MWCD and then own the cottage located on it, which are constructed according to guidelines developed and managed by the MWCD. Lease rates are based upon established rate classification and adjust annually in accordance with the cottage site lease agreement. Cottage sites are located on and around the following lakes: Atwood, Charles Mill, Leesville, Piedmont, Pleasant Hill, Seneca, Tappan, and Wills Creek.

Currently, all sites are under lease and have privately-owned residential structures constructed on them. 

Cottage at Tappan West Shore

The lease includes the right to maintain a structure on the delineated lot and to improve the lot in accordance with MWCD construction requirements. MWCD issues construction permits for exterior improvements, which can be requested by completing a construction permit application. Questions about the permitting process can be addressed on the FAQ sheet, or by contacting Erica Maurer, Lease Technician, at (330) 556-4834.

Lessee Docking

MWCD lessees are permitted to install a private dock on the lake to dock watercraft overnight in accordance with docking specifications. Watercraft docked overnight requires docking decals that are obtained annually upon completion of a docking decal application and payment.

Becoming a Cottage Site Lessee

Anyone interested in becoming a cottage site lessee does so by purchasing a cottage/residential structure from an existing cottage site leaseholder. Individual lessees typically list their cottages/homes for sale either by themselves or through local realtors. Purchase agreements between buyer and seller serve as the catalyst for the sale of the structure(s). The structure(s) transfer from seller to buyer by bill of sale.

In conjunction with the transfer of the structure, MWCD administers a lease assignment process to transfer the lease for the land on which the structure sits, to buyer from seller. The lease assignment process includes a required “lease conference” to be attended by the buyer in order to have any questions regarding this rather “unique” lease opportunity answered prior to the real estate closing. The lease conference is the beginning of an often long-lasting partnership between MWCD and the buyer. An even more important purpose of the lease conference is let the buyer put a face with the organization.

Lease terms are for 30 years. A 40 year lease may be utilized, for the purpose of satisfying certain mortgage lender requirements. MWCD assists in securing lenders interests in the leasehold with a mortgage consent agreement. The mortgage consent agreement assures the lender that the lease will not be transferred until any outstanding mortgage has been satisfied. The lease contains a first right and option to renew clause, which gives the lessee the first right and option to renew their lease for similar terms and conditions for an additional lease term(s). The 40-year lease term, first preferential right and option to renew and the mortgage consent process alleviate most lender concerns with regard to financing cottage purchases.

Utilities and Safety

Sanitation and water on many properties consists of individual wells and septic systems that are owned and maintained by the individual cottage owners (lessees). However, some areas have central water and/or wastewater treatment systems in place. Prospective lessees should determine the status of water and wastewater facilities serving the area and lot they may be interested in. Roadways are maintained by MWCD, including wintertime snow and ice control.

Law enforcement activities around MWCD lakes consist of cooperative efforts by the county sheriff, MWCD ranger staff, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) wildlife and watercraft officers that enforce laws and regulations of the state as well as MWCD Rules and Regulations. Fire protection is provided by local fire departments located adjacent to MWCD lake areas. Electric, telephone and cable, if available, are provided by local private utilities.

Obtaining More Information

This is intended to provide a brief overview of the MWCD Cottage Site Leasing Program. We welcome and encourage you to contact us to discuss our program in further and greater detail.



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