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Overview of Process to Amending Local Zoning Ordinances in Michigan

It is undeniable that property changes over time, whether it be through physical landscape, different structures built on the property, or changes in how it is used. It follows, that properties will consequently conflict with their established local zoning ordinances. As such, it makes sense that a legislative body or commission would seek to amend ordinances to adapt with the evolving times. 

Amending a zoning ordinance is a more suitable remedy than a variance request generally where it concerns a larger property or properties.  Zoning ordinances can be amended not solely through a planning commission or legislative body, but also through a property owner or one with property interest.  Where a property owner or interested individual requests an amendment to a zoning ordinance, it may be considered by multiple municipal departments. 

Once an amendment is officially proposed, the local planning commission will hold a public hearing on such amendment through proper notice.  The planning commission must issue notice at least 15 days before the hearing, which complies with Michigan’s statutory notice requirements as well as any local notice requirements.

At public hearings, interested parties can make their case for why the requested amendment should or should not be adopted.  Following such hearing, the planning commission will issue its recommendation on the matter to the appropriate legislative body.  For townships, Michigan statue provides certain requirements where a planning commission must submit the proposed amendment to the county planning or zoning commission for review. 

If required by local ordinance or requested by an interested property owner, further public hearings can be held before the local legislative body.  These additional hearings are also subject to the same notice requirements under state statute and any local ordinance.

When considering the requested amendment, it is possible the legislative body can submit further changes or additions to the amendment.  Moreover, the requested amendment can be deferred back to the local planning commission for further review.

In order for a proposed amendment to be adopted by a legislative body, there must be a majority vote.  With respect to cities or villages, state statute provides an exception to majority-based votes, where a protest petition is submitted.  In this case, a two-thirds or three-quarters vote is needed from the legislative body in order to adopt the requested amendment.  Upon voting in favor of adoption, the legislative body must publish notice within 15 days of said adoption, that again complies with relevant statutory notice requirements and any additional local requirements.

Interested parties can petition the legislative body’s decision on a proposed amendment in accordance with statutory requirements—whether it has been adopted or denied. The process of amending a zoning ordinance can be straightforward or more complex.  Whether someone seeking an amendment to their current zoning ordinances, or an interested property owner to a proposal, the attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, PLC, can assist through any and all legal complexities that may arise in such a matter.

If you have any questions about amending local ordinances, zoning, or land use in Michigan, please contact 313-859-6000, our attorneys would be happy to speak with you.  

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