In addition to the land use and zoning work that we do for religious organizations around the United States, and the donation and collection bin cases wherein we have successfully asserted First Amendment Free Speech claims, we have been working with local property owners and developers on land use and zoning in our hometown, the City of Detroit.
The local land use regulations are some of the most difficult in the United States to navigate. In addition to the zoning ordinance that is in excess of 800 pages, the City has multiple layers of zoning maps, master plans and land use regulations to consider when buying and developing land in the City. It is essential to have knowledge of the land use criteria prior to developing, or redeveloping, land in the City of Detroit.
The professionals at Dalton & Tomich PLC have been working with a property owner who purchased a fairly large historic office building in the central business district of the City. The owner wants to update the building and use it for office space for its own needs. The building itself was originally built as a bank then later used as a financial services office and has been vacant for over a decade.
The initial step in the process involved meeting with the planning department, reviewing the proposed use of the building with the office and preparing a path for future use. This is a critical step as it sets forth the expectations of both sides in terms of what is to be expected through the approval process. In our case, the building being renovated is located in the Central Business District. The location lent itself to an examination as to whether the Historic District Committee needed to review and approve the plan. Given the age of the building, its location and the proposed exterior renovation plan (new windows, replacing a wall mounted clock, and new roof top screening for the new HVAC system) our charge was to first seek the Historic District Commission (HDC) approval. The Historic District has a terrific staff who evaluate plans and provide commentary to the Commission as to whether the proposal of the property owner meets the standards of the HDC. In this case, after a few rounds of revisions, the staff accepted the project and recommended approval to the HDC.
Thereafter, at a public hearing the Historic District Commission evaluated the plans, questioned staff and the applicant, and recommended approval to the Plan Commission. At a subsequent meeting with the planning commission, we reviewed the recommendation of the HDC with the planning commission who also approved the application. Because the building is in the Central Business District, the plan next went to a committee of the City Council to evaluate. The Committee also reviewed the HDC recommendation, the Plan Commission recommendation, and also approved the plan to the entire City Council. The City Council then had a public hearing on the application and approved it.
While the path of approval, which included a review by the Historic District Committee, Planning Commission committee of the City Council and the entire City Council itself proved to be time consuming, the process itself was timely, smooth and accepted without incident due to the team of professionals who worked diligently in answering questions, providing information and appearing at meetings when requested. Since the approval, the permits for exterior and interior renovations have been issued and the property owner is renovating the building and bringing it back to the original splendor when it first opened in the 1920’s.
Even though the number of steps, and the time to take the steps, proved to be consuming, the approval of the project occurred in the projected time and under budget. professionals at Dalton & Tomich PLC have the experience and the skill to help take your project through the approval process in a timely and financially prudent manner.
Please feel free to contact Daniel Dalton should you need help with your project in Detroit.