blog, articles & publications

Standing Requirements for Zoning Lawsuits :: Michigan Courts

Over the years, the Michigan courts have struggled with which parties can bring a lawsuit or appeal in a county circuit court to challenge a zoning decision by a Michigan city, village or township. The concept is often referred to as “standing,” and centers on which party or parties (typically, a neighbor) has sufficient interest in a controversy to be able to bring a lawsuit or to appeal a zoning approval decision via a circuit court in Michigan. The standing issue arises in a variety of different zoning contexts, including challenging municipal zoning decisions such as rezonings, variances, special land use approvals, site plan approvals, and other zoning approvals.   Read More

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