ZBA Frequently Asked Questions

Can a requirement of the Zoning Ordinance be waived (variance): Yes

The Board of Zoning Appeals (ZBA) will hear and decide requests for variances to the dimensional requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. The ZBA is only authorized to grant dimensional variances. To obtain such a variance it is necessary to establish that there is a hardship or practical difficulty in meeting Ordinance requirements and still be able to use the land in a reasonable way. Once a practical difficulty or hardship has been established, the ZBA evaluates each appeal request according to the enumerated standards to determine its relationship to the subject property and compatibility with the surrounding area. The process takes 30 to 45 days.

Procedure for obtaining a variance:

1. Obtain an application form from the Zoning Administrator or online in "Forms and Applications". Assistance is available when filling out the form. A site plan drawn to scale is required.

2. Completed applications are filed with the Zoning Administrator. A receipt with the date, place and time of the ZBA meeting when the appeal will be heard. A non refundable filing fee is required. The fee schedule is established by the Township Board and is on the application.

3. The Zoning Administrator prepares a notice that is mailed to surrounding owners and occupants within 300 feet of the subject property notifying them of the place, date and time of the scheduled public hearing, as well as a description of what the applicant proposes. This notice is sent 15 days in advance of the public hearing.

4. The Zoning Administrator prepares a report upon information gathered regarding the subject property and the surrounding area including items such as site size, existing land use, zoning and development. This preliminary report is sent to the Board members approximately one week prior to the public hearing.

5. The staff report contains a staff analysis and recommendation.

6. The petitioner, or a representative, will be called to speak, then other persons whether in favor or opposed to the proposal. Public comment may also be expressed by letter or telephone call, 810-231-1333, to the Zoning Administrator. Public input is considered and evaluated at each hearing prior to a final decision by the ZBA.

7. At the close of public hearing on each case the ZBA discusses the merits of that appeal.

Following their discussion, a decision is made. The ZBA may act to approve, approve with conditions, modify or deny an appeal. If additional information is needed, the Board may act to table the appeal.

8. Once a decision has been made, a letter will be sent by the Zoning Administrator  informing the applicant of the decision.

What is a Hardship?
A hardship is not caused by action of the applicant; Example the need of an oversized garage cannot be justified just to store already collected items or junk.

A hardship is unique to the lot; that is, its size, shape, topography or other physical characteristic created a hardship or practical difficulty.

Can a decision of the ZBA be appealed?    Yes

The decisions of the ZBA are final. However, a decision of the ZBA may be appealed to Circuit Court within 21 days of the denial.