You purchase a piece of Michigan property and want to develop it. But you soon discover that the property is not zoned for your preferred use. What do you do? Are you out of luck? Not necessarily. There are a few potential ways you could work around this issue. One of the most effective ways is to apply to rezone your property.
Before applying to rezone a property, you should first consult the municipality’s master plan. What has the community stated it wants to do with your property in the future? Is it slated for residential, commercial, industrial, or something else? If the rezoning you want conflicts with the master plan, you should likely reconsider your path.
If the master plan for the property is the same or at least similar to what you are hoping for, it is almost always worth your time to consult with the planning and development department in your local community. They can give you information on the application process, what kind of information to include, and the potential cost. Further, the community planner often has a good idea of whether the proposal is likely to be well-received by decision-makers like the planning commission or the local board or city council. The planner may also be able to warn you about potential pitfalls.
After consulting with the planner, you should consider discussing the project with neighbors. Neighbor opposition is the chief reason for most rezoning denials. If there are not voters voicing opposition to your project, it becomes much easier for local politicians to approve your request. Further, being a good neighbor can gain you invaluable goodwill for the future. This step will also reveal potential opposition to the project, which you may be able to address before it is raised publicly.
The next step is filling out the application. Depending on where in Michigan you are applying, the process could be simple or more complex. Check the local zoning code to see what factors are considered by decision-makers when evaluating a rezoning request. Tailor your application to the approval factors. It is highly recommended that you secure an experienced land use attorney for at least this step. A poorly written application can ruin a request before it is submitted. It is also important to note that Michigan provides for conditional rezonings. This process allows you to make a contract with the community to rezone your property based on certain conditions. This is often an effective way to address potential concerns.
The final step is to appear for the public hearing(s) regarding your application. Again, it is very helpful to have an attorney representing you at this stage. You should come prepared with detailed information regarding your proposed use. Be able to explain how your rezoning request fits with the zoning ordinance and the master plan. Finally, be ready to respond to any objections respectfully but firmly.
While each municipality will have unique challenges and requirements for rezonings, this information should provide a valuable place to start when considering a rezoning. The attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, PLC represent property owners throughout Michigan in rezonings and other land use issues. If you are considering a rezoning, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to speak with you.