Planning & Zoning

If you have questions about planning and zoning, you can contact us - 
Phone call to Christina Irwin - 810-694-1118 or email -
Christina is happy to answer all your intro and basic questions.

If you have more in depth questions, she can refer you to the City Planner - Brian Borden - 810-694-1118.
Brian works the 1st and 3rd Monday every month. 

Click here to see our ordinances 

Planning Commission meetings are held at City Hall on the 3rd Monday of every month at 6:30PM. 
Planning Commission meeting agendas and minutes here! 

Standards for Variances & Appeals

Variances and appeals shall be granted only in accordance with Michigan Public Act 207 of 1921, as amended, and based on the findings set forth in this section. The extent to which the following criteria apply to a specific case shall be determined by the Board of Zoning Appeals, however, at least one of the applicable criteria must be found by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Criteria Applicable to Variances

  • Practical Difficulties: Compliance with the strict letter of the restrictions governing area, setbacks, frontage, height, bulk, density, or other dimensional provisions would create practical difficulties, unreasonably prevent the use of the property for a permitted purpose, or render conformity with such restrictions unnecessarily burdensome. The showing of mere inconvenience is insufficient to justify a variance.
  • Substantial Justice: Granting of a requested variance or appeal would do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners in the district; or, as an alternative, granting of lesser variance than requested would give substantial relief to the owner of the property involved and be more consistent with justice to other property owners.
  • Public Safety and Welfare: The requested variance or appeal can be granted in such fashion that the spirit of these regulations will be observed and public safety and welfare secured.
  • Extraordinary Circumstances: There are exceptional or extraordinary circumstances or conditions applicable to the property involved or to the intended use of the property that do not apply generally to other properties or other similar uses in the same zoning district. The conditions resulting in a variance request cannot be self-created.
  • No Safety Hazard or Nuisance: The granting of a variance or appeal will not increase the hazard of fire or otherwise endanger public safety or create a public nuisance.
  • Relationship to Adjacent Land Uses: The development permitted upon granting of a variance shall relate harmoniously in a physical and economic sense with adjacent land uses and will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood. In evaluating this criterion, consideration shall be given to prevailing shopping patterns, convenience of access for patrons, continuity of development, and the need for particular services and facilities in specific areas of the City.
Criteria Applicable to Appeals: The Board of Zoning Appeals shall reverse an order of an Enforcement Official only if it finds that the action or decision appealed:

  • was arbitrary or capricious, or
  • was based on an erroneous finding of a material fact, or
  • constituted an abuse of discretion, or
  • was based on erroneous interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance or zoning law.
  • Appeals from Denial of Board of Zoning Appeals of Zoning Appeals may be taken to Genesee County Circuit Court.
Exceptions: To hear and decide, in accordance with the provisions of this Ordinance, requests for exceptions, for interpretations of the Zoning Map, and for situations on which this Ordinance specifically authorizes the Board of Zoning Appeals to act. Any exception shall be subject to such conditions as the Board of Zoning Appeals may require to preserve and promote the character of the zoning district in question and otherwise promote the purpose of this Ordinance, including the following:

  • Interpret the provisions of this Ordinance in such a way as to carry out the intent and purpose of the plan, as shown upon the Zoning Map fixing the use districts accompanying and made part of this Ordinance, where street layout actually on the ground varies from the street layout as shown on the map aforesaid.
  • Permit the modification of the automobile parking space or loading space requirements where, in the particular instance, such modification will not be inconsistent with the purpose and intent of such requirements.
  • Permit such modification of the height and area regulations as may be necessary to secure an appropriate improvement of a lot which is shaped such or so located with relation to surrounding development or physical characteristics, that it cannot otherwise be appropriately improved without such modification.
  • Permit modification of obscuring wall requirements only when such modification will not adversely affect or be detrimental to surrounding or adjacent development.
  • Permit, upon proper application, the following character of temporary use, not otherwise permitted by Section 332, not to exceed twelve (12) months with the granting of one (1) twelve- month extensions being permissible for uses which do not require the erection of any capital improvement of a structural nature.
The Board of Zoning Appeals, in granting permits for the above temporary uses, shall do so under the following conditions:

  • The granting of the temporary use shall in no way constitute a change in the basic uses permitted in the district nor on the property wherein the temporary use is permitted.
  • The granting of the temporary use shall be granted in writing, stipulating all conditions as to time, nature of development permitted and arrangements for removing the use at the termination of said temporary permit.
  • All setbacks, land coverage, off-street parking, lighting and other requirements to be considered in protecting the public health, safety, peace, morals, comfort, convenience and general welfare of the inhabitants of the City, shall be made at the discretion of the Board of Zoning Appeals.
  • In classifying uses as not requiring capital improvement, the Board of Zoning Appeals shall determine that they are either demountable structures related to the permitted use of the land; recreation developments, such as, but not limited to: golf-driving ranges and outdoor archery courts; or structures which do not require foundations, heating systems or sanitary connections.
  • The use shall be in harmony with the general character of the district.
  • No temporary use permit shall be granted without first giving notice to owners of adjacent property and all owners of record listed in the latest assessment roll of the City located within three hundred (300) feet of the area of the request of the time and place of a Public Hearing to be held as further provided for in this Ordinance. Further, the Board of Zoning Appeals of Zoning Appeals shall seek the review and recommendation of the Planning Commission prior to the taking of any action.

Votes required: The concurring votes of four (4) members of the Board of Zoning Appeals shall be necessary to reverse any order, requirement, decision, or determination of Applicant in matter upon which is authorized by this Ordinance to render a decision. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to give or grant to the Board of Zoning Appeals the power or authority to alter or change this Ordinance or the Zoning Map.

Site Plan Review

The detailed site plan presented for consideration shall contain all information required in this Ordinance. (Download the Site Plan Review Application here)

  • Application form provided by the City and required fee established by resolution of the City Council.
  • Site Plan Drawings and Illustrations (Fully Dimensioned):Site plans shall contain all of the required data prior to approval of such plans by the City. Site plans shall consist of an overall plan for the entire development. Sheet size shall be at least 24" x 36", with the plan view drawn to a scale of 1" = 20' for property less than three (3) acres or 1" = 100' for property of three (3) or more acres. Included on the site plan will be all of the following data as applicable.
Data Required for both Multiple-Family and Commercial, Industrial, Public, and Semi-Public Development

  • Applicant's name, address, and telephone number.
  • Date (month, day, year) including dates of any revisions.
  • Title block.
  • Engineers Scale.
  • Northpoint.
  • Location map drawn at a scale of 1" = 2,000',with northpoint indicated sufficient to indicate general surroundings and street network.
  • Name of the proposed development.
  • Common description of the property and complete legal description (also address, if available).
  • Dimensions of site including width, length, frontage and acreage exclusive of rights-of-ways.
  • Name, address, signature, and seal of Architect, Engineer, Surveyor, or Landscape Architect, who was responsible for the preparation of the site plan.
  • Zoning classification of Applicant's parcel and all abutting parcels.
  • A site analysis map illustration, current drainage flows (with arrows), boundaries of any wetland regulated by the MDNR, location and elevation of bodies of water, trees over eight inches (8") caliper, steep slopes, floodplain boundaries and elevation and existing structures
  • Proximity to major thoroughfares and/or section corner.
  • Location of any required fire lanes.
  • Existing and proposed contours of the site in sufficient detail to determine drainage.
  • Location and elevation of existing drainage courses, floodplains, and lakes and streams.
  • Existing and proposed lot lines, property lines.
  • Existing and future right-of-way lines and easements.
  • All buildings, structures, signs, parking areas, sidewalks, etc. on the site and within 100 feet.
  • Proposed locations and dimensions of access drives, street materials and curbing, drives and driveways (all radii measurements shown).
  • Proposed street names.
  • Location of existing and proposed sanitary sewers.
  • Locations and sizes of the following:
  1. well sites in the proposed development.
  2. water mains, hydrants, and building services.
  3. storm sewers, site grading, drainage, retention basin, and/or other pertinent facilities including drainage and retention calculations and design details.
  • Building footprints with length and width dimensions.
  • Building elevations including types of materials and colors.
  • Setback and yard dimensions for buildings.
  • Location of interior and exterior sidewalks, pathways and bikepaths. Any development on City arterial and collector streets, shall require the construction of sidewalks within City right-of-way. (amended 2/14/96)
  • Location, type, intensity height and fixture details of external lighting. Projects in the downtown may require ornamental street lighting.
  • Locations and design details of any obscuring walls, berms, and fences.
  • Table illustrating compliance with parking requirements of Article XXII for number of spaces, dimensions and pavement materials.
  • Landscape plan in accordance with Article XXIII.
  • Entrance details and signs (Note: signs are subject to separate review under the sign ordinance.)
  • Location and type of all regulatory signs (stop sign, no parking signs, etc.)
  • Location of waste receptacle(s), if any, and screening details in accordance with Section 314. Turning radii of the waste receptacle vehicle shall be illustrated.
  • Location and method of screening of all transformer pads, reception antenna and air conditioners.
  • An impact assessment or traffic analysis, if required (Sec. 2407).
  • For condominiums in developments, an illustration of all general commons and limited commons.
Data Required for Multiple-Family Development Only

  • A density schedule showing the number of dwelling units by type per gross acre and net acre (see Sec. 322).
  • Floor plans of a typical building.
  • Carport locations and details, if applicable, indicating carports will net the standards of Sec. 2200 (l).
  • Details of community buildings and fencing of swimming pool, if applicable.
  • Location and details of any mail box clusters.
  • Specific amount, type, and location of recreation space and facilities. Data Required for Commericial, Industrial, Public, and Semi-Public Development
  • Loading and unloading areas meeting dimensional requirements of Article XXII.
  • All businesses, facilities, and uses, including private and public facilities, which use, store or generate hazardous substances and polluting materials in quantities greater than 25 gallons or 220 pounds per month shall require the completion of the "Groundwater Protection Information Check List for Site Plan Review" and Special Land Use Review.(amended 2/14/96)
  • The applicant shall submit the required number of copies of an application for site plan approval, site plans, and other information where applicable. The number of copies required will be determined by the Building and Zoning Administrator. The applicant or the applicant's representative must be present at the scheduled reviews or the matter will be tabled.
  • If the site plan is in order and contains the required information, the site plan shall be placed on the agenda of a regular or special Planning Commission meeting.
  • The Planning Commission shall have final authority on site plans for permitted uses. The Planning Commission shall make a recommendation on the site plan for Special Land Uses, with the final action by the City Council.
  • The Planning Commission shall take action no sooner than fourteen (14) days and within seventy (70) days of the meeting at which the application first appeared on the agenda. However, preliminary plans for mobile home parks within a Mobile Home Park District shall be submitted and reviewed in accordance with the timetable established in the Michigan Mobile Home Commission Act.
  • The Planning Commission, as a condition of its approval of a site plan, may require reasonable modifications relating to: the location, height, number of stories, and size of dwellings, buildings, and other structures; the area of the yards, courts, and other open spaces; and the sanitary, safety, and protective measures which shall be required for such dwellings, buildings, and structures; and any other changes to meet the standards and intent of this Zoning Ordinance and other Ordinances, laws and regulations.
  • For any approval with condition, the applicant shall submit a revised plan within sixty (60) days illustrating compliance with all conditions for approval by the Building and Zoning Administrator. No permits shall be issued until such revised plan is submitted and approved.
  • The applicant shall be responsible for the cost of preparing all site plan submittal information and for the evaluation of the site plan and related documents by consultants selected by the City. 
Special Land Use

The procedure for Special Land Use review shall be as follows:

  1. An applicant for a Special Land Use shall submit an application for review and pay the required fee. The application presented for consideration shall contain the following:
    • Name of proposed development.
    • Common description of the property and complete legal description (also address, if available.)
    • Dimensions of land: width, length, acreage, and frontage.
    • Existing zoning classification and zoning of all adjacent properties.
    • Proposed use of the land.
    • Name, address, City and phone number of:
      1. Firm or individual who prepared the application.
      2. Legal owner of the property.
      3. Applicant (including basis of representation.)
    • Signature of the legal owner and the Applicant.
    • A site plan, prepared in accordance with the provisions of Article XXIV of this Ordinance.
  2. Planning Commission Public Hearing
    • If the Building and Zoning Administrator finds all of the information required above is in order, the Planning Commission shall schedule a Public Hearing to review the request.
    • The Planning Commission shall direct the City Clerk to publish a notice of the public hearing in a newspaper which circulates in the City and copies of the notice shall be sent by mail to property owners and occupants of structures within three hundred (300) feet of the property in question. The notice shall be given not less than five (5) days nor more than fifteen (15) days before the date of the public hearing, and shall:
      1. Describe the nature of the Special Land Use request.
      2. Indicate the property which is the subject of the Special Land Use request.
      3. State the date, time and place of public hearing.
      4. Indicate that written comments may be submitted prior to or at the public hearing.
  3. The Planning Commission shall conduct the required public hearing.
  4. The Planning Commission shall review the application in terms of the requirements of the Special Land Use General standards listed in Section 2102 below and any specific standards of Section 2110.
  5. The Planning Commission shall recommend that the City Council either approve, approve with conditions (as described below in Section 2104) or deny the Special Land Use and the accompanying site plan.
  6. The Special Land Use request and other pertinent information, together with the recommendation of the Planning Commission, shall be placed on the agenda of the next City Council meeting. The City Council shall either approve or reject the request within sixty (60) days, unless an extension has been agreed upon in writing by both the City Council and the Applicant.
Zoning Amendments

An amendment to this Ordinance or the Official Zoning Map, except those initiated by the City, shall be initiated by submission of a completed application form and fee. The following information shall accompany the application form:

  • A legal description and street address of the subject property, together with a map identifying the subject property in relation to surrounding properties.
  • The name and address of the owner of the subject site, and a statement of the applicant's interest in the subject site if not the owner in fee simple title.
  • The existing and proposed zoning district designation of the subject property.
  • The land use classification for the subject site as illustrated on the City's Master Plan.
  • In the case of an amendment to this Ordinance, other than an amendment to the Official Zoning Map, a general description of the proposed amendment and rationale for the change shall accompany the application form.
  • A written description of how the requested rezoning meets Sec. 2804 "Criteria for Amendment of the Official Zoning Map", or Sec. 2805 "Criteria for Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance Text".