blog, articles & publications

The All-Important Zoning Permit

In general, municipal zoning administrators should not render advisory zoning decisions to applicants or property owners or answer detailed zoning hypotheticals.  Why not?  There are several reasons.  First, that can monopolize a zoning administrator’s time.  While most applicants have generally done their homework before applying for a zoning approval, others have not and attempt to rely upon the zoning administrator to “educate” them.  They almost rely on the zoning administrator as their de facto personal planner or zoning attorney.  Second, given that no zoning or application fee has yet been paid, a municipality is subsidizing the inquisitor.  Third, most zoning administrators are busy and do not have the time to allow a handful of property owners to monopolize their time.  Fourth, in many cases, the landowner often does not tell the zoning administrator all of the relevant facts and circumstances involved (or is mistaken regarding those matters) and the zoning administrator renders zoning advice based upon bad information.  Later, if anything goes wrong, the landowner will invariable blame the zoning administrator for bad advice.  Finally, the zoning administrator is taking on a potential additional liability for the municipality, which need not be.    Read More

Michigan Right To Farm Act Update

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently issued an unpublished decision interpreting the scope of the Michigan Right To Farm Act (the “Act”) and its protections for farm equipment against municipal zoning regulations.  In Lima Township v Bateson, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued on October 11, 2018 (Docket No. 338934), Lima Township sought to enforce provisions of its zoning ordinance that prohibited the storage or staging of commercial vehicles and equipment used for commercial operations in one of its agricultural zoning districts.  In that case, a landowner had been keeping “gravel haulers, bull dozers, road graders,” and other industrial equipment on its property, claiming the equipment was used for commercial production related to a tree farm.  Read More