Planning and Zoning*A*Syst #5: Community Planning and Zoning Audit: Administrative Structure (E3055)

Administrative Structure (E-3055) provides a performance audit for the operation of the planning commission, zoning administrator, and zoning board of appeals.

Chapter 1: Introduction

The Community Planning and Zoning Audit is a comprehensive assessment of local government planning and zoning in Michigan. It covers basic topics and practices that members of every local planning and zoning entity should understand and should be doing. Each chapter of the Community Planning and Zoning Audit contains key points in the format of questions, checklists, and tables to assess your community’s land use planning and zoning, including the adoption and amendment process, day-to-day administration and record keeping, and decision making about special land uses, planned unit developments, and site plan reviews.

Purpose of the Audit

The Community Planning and Zoning Audit is intended for use by local units of government in Michigan to help perform a self-evaluation of the basics of the community’s planning and zoning system. The reason for doing an assessment is to learn of shortcomings and problems before they become controversial issues. As a result of going through this booklet, local officials will be alerted to things that need “fixing” and deficiencies in the community’s files. The document helps accomplish three objectives:

1. Identify liability risks from not following proper procedures and practices, and not having adequate documentation of those procedures and practices.

2. Learn to better manage the planning and zoning administration in your community.

3. Take corrective steps to improve your planning and zoning system.

Organization and Content

This publication is one of a series of 11 Michigan State University Extension Community Planning and Zoning Audits available to walk a community through a performance audit. Topics are:

1. Basic Setup (MSU Extension bulletin number E-3051) makes sure that your planning commission and zoning board of appeals are set up properly and a system is in place to make sure the community keeps up-to-date.

2. The Plan (E-3052) reviews the process of plan and plan amendment adoption (to make sure that it was done properly) and reviews of an existing plan to determine if it needs to be updated, and reviews what should be in a plan.

3. Planning Coordination (E-3053) covers the process of coordination with neighboring government planning (review of each other’s plans); coordination with state, federal and other government agencies; coordination practices; and joint planning commissions.

4. The Zoning Ordinance (E-3054) reviews the process of zoning ordinance and zoning amendment adoption (to make sure that it was done properly) and what needs to be in the file to document that the proper steps were taken. This publication also reviews what should be in a zoning ordinance.

5. Administrative Structure (E-3055) provides a performance audit for the operation of the planning commission, zoning administrator, and zoning board of appeals. It covers office procedures, job descriptions, filing systems, bylaws, rules of procedure, compliance with the Open Meetings Act, minutes, and process for meetings and decision making.

6. Special Land Uses (E-3056) provides a review of the administrative structure for handling special use permits: pre-applications, applications, public notification, record keeping, and use of standards in making decisions.

7. Planned Unit Development (E-3057) provides a review of the administrative structure for handling planned unit development handled as a special use permit and as a zoning amendment: pre-applications, applications, public notification, record keeping, and use of standards in making special use decisions or basis in the plan for zoning amendment decisions.

8. Site Plan Review (E-3058) provides a review of the administrative structure for handling site plan reviews: applications, public notification, record keeping, and use of standards in making decisions. 9. Capital Improvement Program (E-3104) provides a review of the process of creating an annual capital improvement program (CIP).

10. Subdivision and Land Splitting Reviews (E-3105) provides a review of the administrative structure for handling land divisions, subdivisions or plats, site-condominiums, lot splits, and certified plats: pre-application meetings with the developer, public notification, plat review, record keeping, and use of standards in making decisions.

11. Capital Improvements Review (E-3106) provides a review of the process for the planning commission to review and comment on local government construction projects (which are otherwise not subject to zoning), and outlines how this review can be used as a constructive way to ensure that government-funded projects comply with the adopted plan and local ordinances.

Each of these Community Planning and Zoning Audits is available at http://web2.msue.msu.edu/bulletins/subjectsearch.cfm and http://www.msue.msu.edu/lu and f,rom your county Extension office.

How to use the Audit

The Community Planning and Zoning Audit is not difficult to complete. However, it does take time and the ability to search for and find various records in your local government. The actions taken as a result of this exercise should help reduce liability risk and improve your community’s planning and zoning program.

The Community Planning and Zoning Audit can be utilized by local units of government in a variety of ways. A community can go through this booklet as a group (e.g., the planning commission or a subcommittee) or a community can have an individual do so. The advantage of performing the assessment as a group is that reviewing the community’s documents and files in detail is a great educational experience for local officials. Alternatively, a staff person within the planning department may be able to perform the audit quicker because of having greater familiarity with how the unit or government maintains its records.

Additionally, a community can perform the Community Planning and Zoning Audit with certain chapters reviewed by various groups or individuals. For instance, the planning commission could review a few chapters of the audit while the zoning board of appeals addresses another set, and the legislative body performs the evaluations in the remaining chapters. Regardless of the approach taken, the main idea is to take the time to find out where various documents are and to make sure that proper documentation is on file. Then, where necessary, take action to correct any shortcomings.

Upon completion, if your community still has questions or wants help, please contact your county Extension office. They can contact the Michigan State University Land Use Team to provide further assistance and educational programming.

Organization and Content

The Community Planning and Zoning Audit contains the following chapters:

1. Introduction. 
2. The Plan. 
3. Smart Growth

The audit is based on Michigan Public Act 110 of 2006, as amended (the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, M.C.L. 125.3101 et seq.), Public Act 33 of 2008 (the Michigan Planning Enabling Act, M.C.L. 125.8101 et seq.), recommendations from members of the MSU Extension Land Use Team, and intergovernmental coordination and plan content “best planning practices” derived from a proposed Coordinated Planning Act developed by the Michigan Association of Planning.

The Community Planning and Zoning Audit is not designed to be a substitute for reading and understanding the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act or the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. Nor is this document a substitute for legal advice or for professional planner services. It is important to document each step of the process in planning and zoning a community. Keep detailed minutes, affidavits of publication and mailing, open meeting notices, letters of transmittal, and communications all on file so that years from now they are still available.

Defined Terms

Appeals board” means the zoning board of appeals (ZBA).

Certified” (resolution, minutes, ordinance, etc.) means the keeper of the records for the local unit of government (secretary of the planning commission or clerk of the local unit of government for the planning commission or the clerk of the municipality for the legislative body) provides an affidavit that the copy provided is a true and accurate copy of the document.

Elected official” means a member of a legislative body.

Legislative body” refers to the county board of commissioners of a county, the board of trustees of a township, the council of a city or village, or any other similar duly elected representative body of a county, township, city, or village.

Local unit of government” means a county, township, city, or village.

Municipality” means a city, village, or township.

Plan” means any plan or master plan adopted under the Michigan Planning Enabling Act or one of the three former planning acts, regardless of what it is titled.

Planning commission” means a zoning board, zoning commission,1 planning commission, or planning board.2

1On or before July 1, 2011, the duties of the zoning commission or zoning board shall be transferred to a planning commission. Thus, the zoning commission or zoning board will no longer exist (M.C.L. 125.3301(2)). 
2Starting on Sept 1, 2008, “planning boards” need to be named “planning commissions” even if a charter, ordinance, or resolution says otherwise (M.C.L. 125.3811(1)).

Chapter 2: Administrative Structure

The purpose of this chapter is to review the day-to-day operations and practices of planning and zoning in the community. It covers operations and practices at public meetings, the office procedures of the zoning administrator, and more. To conduct this review, you will need the following:

1. The minutes of the planning commission for the past year. 
2. The minutes of the zoning board of appeals for the past year. 
3. The bylaws for the planning commission. 
4. The rules of procedure for the appeals board. 
5. A copy of the planning and zoning budget(s) for the current year. 
6. A copy of the current zoning ordinance. 
7. Access to case files for permits, appeals. 
8. Access to the zoning administrator’s office records and file system. 
9. A copy of the zoning administrator’s job description or scope of service. 
10. A copy of the zoning administrator’s office policies or procedure manual(s). 
11. A copy of the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. 
12. A copy of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act. 
13. A copy of the Open Meetings Act. 
14. A copy of the community master plan.

Question

Affirmative (we are doing it) answer

Negative (need to correct) answer

Action to correct has been done

General Operations (Bylaws, Meetings, Open Meetings Act)

1. Are there procedures for election of the chair and secretary (and other positions if, desired)? (M.C.L. 125.3817(1))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is required by the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. Amend the bylaws to add such a provision.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

2. Are elections held each year for the position of chair, secretary, and any other officers? (M.C.L. 125.3817(1))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required by the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. Amend the bylaws to add such a provision, if not already in the bylaws, and start the practice.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

3. Do you prepare an annual report, work program, and yearly budget according to generally accepted accounting practices? (M.C.L. 125.3819(2) and 125.3823(2))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

The budget and annual report are required by the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. Statute requires a budget be adopted by the legislative body for all aspects of the local unit of government. The planning commission should be involved in establishing the budget for the planning and zoning parts of the local unit of government. The plan of work is a recommended best planning practice. Amend the bylaws to add a provision that this be done, and start the practice.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

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To indicate when improvement is done.

4. Do you have provisions in your bylaws on public notice of regular meetings?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired amend the bylaws to add such a provision.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

5. Do you have procedures in the bylaws for dealing with issues of conflict of interest?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired amend the bylaws to add such a provision.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

6. Do you require members to receive training and/or continuing education?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired, amend the bylaws to add such a provision.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

7. Do you have attendance requirements for meetings?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired, amend the bylaws to add such a provision.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

8. Do you have rules for public participation (pursuant to the Michigan Open Meetings Act)? (M.C.L. 15.263(1))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

Providing for public participation is required, adopting rules on public participation is not. If desired amend the bylaws to add such a provision.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

9. Were bylaws adopted appropriately?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

If not or if not known, then adopt the bylaws again.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

10. Are copies of bylaws provided to all members?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

Provide a copy of the bylaws to each member.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

11. Is the planning commission meeting at least four times a year? (M.C.L.125.3821(1))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

Start holding meetings the minimum number of times (or more often).

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

12. Have meeting notices been posted within 10 days after the first meeting of the year? (M.C.L. 15.265(2))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Start the practice of posting meetings.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

13. Does the public notice include:

a. The name of the public body.

b. Telephone number of the public body (if one exists).

c. Address of the public body.

d. The date(s) of the meeting(s).

e. The time(s) of the meeting(s).

f. The location(s) of the meeting(s).

g. Other relevant contact information (optional). (M.C.L. 15.264(a) and 15.265(2))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

Items a-f are required. Repost this year’s meetings with the required information.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

14. If the regularly scheduled meeting time was changed, did a public notice get posted within three days after the meeting at which the change was made? (M.C.L. 15.265(3))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Cancel the meeting, reschedule and properly post the notice.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

15. If a special meeting is set up or a regular meeting is rescheduled, was the posting for that meeting done at least 18 hours before the meeting? (M.C.L. 15.265(4))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Cancel the meeting, reschedule, and properly post the notice.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

16. Are public notices posted at the city/village/township/county hall or, if such a place does not exist, at the county clerk’s office? (M.C.L. 15.264(d))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Start always posting meeting notices at one of these locations.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

17. Is a deadline established for adding items to the agenda?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired, start this practice.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

18. Are opportunities provided for public comment/input during meetings? (It is a good idea for the public comment to occur prior to votes on an issue.) (M.C.L. 15.263(5))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

Doing so is required by the Open Meetings Act. Start the practice of doing so immediately.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

19. Is a quorum (usually a majority of the full membership) present before proceeding with the meeting? (M.C.L. 15.263(3))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Start to do so immediately. Consider amending the bylaws to define a quorum (how many members).

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

20. Are you in compliance with the requirements of the Open Meetings Act (M.C.L. 15.261 et seq.)? (See Land Use Series: “Michigan Open Meetings Act Decision Tree” at http://www.msue.msu.edu/lu)

.

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

Start to do so immediately.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

21. If the meeting goes into a closed session, is it done in compliance with the requirements of the Open Meetings Act? (See Land Use Series: “Michigan Open Meetings Act Decision Tree” at http://www.msue.msu.edu/lu) (M.C..L. 15.267 and 15.268)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Start to do so immediately.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

Duties

22. Does the planning commission engage in and carry out each of the following activities?

a. Prepare a plan.

b. Conduct studies, investigations, and surveys.

c. Cooperate with local, county, state, and federal units of government.

d. Consult with adjacent and neighboring units of government.

e. Receive and actually review and comment on neighboring and county proposed plans.

f. Prepare and submit an annual report, plan or work, and budget to the legislative body.

g. Recommend to the legislative body subdivison regulations.

h. Review and act on proposed subdivisions.

i. Prepare a capital improvement program each year.

j. Review and make recommendations on infrastructure/capital projects.

k. Carry out other duties as assigned by the legislative body. (M.C.L. 125.3831, 125.3861-125.3871)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

These are required by the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. Indicate which are not being done, and put in place a strategy to start the activities not currently being done. Some may be optional. For those which are not optional in your community. For those which are optional in your community indicate which are not being done, and if desired put in place a strategy to start the activities not currently being done.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

23. If zoning duties have been assigned to the planning commission, does it:

a. Develop and present zoning ordinances to the legislative body?

b. Recommend the administering and enforcement of the zoning ordinance?

c. Review and act on site plans?

d. Review and act on special land uses?

e. Review and act on planned unit developments? (M.C.L. and 125.3101 et seq.)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

A planning commission has statutory authority to do any of these if assigned zoning powers. Indicate which are not being done, and put in place a strategy to start the activities not currently being done

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

24. Does the planning commission never review and make decisions on any of the following items? a. Appeals of administrative decisions. b. Request for variances. c. Ordinance interpretation questions. (M.C.L. 125.3601-125.3607)

Correct

Good. Go to the next question.

These business items do come before the planning commission:

 

These decisions are the responsibility of the zoning board of appeals and should NEVER be made by the planning commission. Stop doing so immediately.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

Minutes

25. Are minutes kept on file in the office of the clerk of the local unit of government? (M.C.L. 15.269, 125.3821(2), and 125.3819(1))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Start to do so immediately. Also make every effort to recover minutes from past meetings so there are minutes of all meetings in the file.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

26. Are the minutes being reviewed and acted on (approved as written or approved as corrected) at the next regular meeting according to the Open Meetings Act and bylaws? (M.C.L. 15.269)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Start to do so immediately. Amend the bylaws and the agendas so this is a part of each regular meeting.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

27. Do the minutes show that administrative decisions have been based on materials that are sufficiently substantiated to be found to be true (having substance or capable of being treated as fact, not imaginary)? (Article VI, §28 Michigan Constitution)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required for administrative decisions. Start doing so immediately. Each administrative decision should include the action/decision, reasons, and findings of fact.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

28. Do the minutes reflect enough of the debate to clearly indicate which statements made in discussion became the administrative body’s list of facts found to be true and germane to the issue (the “findings of fact”)? (Article VI, §28 Michigan Constitution)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required for administrative decisions. Start doing so immediately. Each administrative decision should include the action/decision, reasons, and findings of fact.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

29. Do the minutes show that the amount of evidence supporting the administrative body’s decision outweighs the material supporting other possible decisions? (Article VI, §28 Michigan Constitution)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required for administrative decisions. Start doing so immediately. Each administrative decision should include the action/decision, reasons, and findings of fact.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

30. Do the minutes show that the decision is based on the entire record (minutes, application, attachments, and so on), not on a review of just part of the record? (Article VI, §28 Michigan Constitution)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required for administrative decisions. Start doing so immediately. Each administrative decision should include the action/decision, reasons, and findings of fact.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

31. Do the minutes include enough information for a person who did not attend the meeting to get a reasonable idea of what happened at the meeting?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is recommended. Start doing so immediately. Minutes for administrative bodies should contain this much detail.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

32. Do the minutes include the following elements?

a. The date, time, and place of the meeting. (M.C.L. 15.269(1))

b. A list of members present, members absent, and indication of others present. (M.C.L. 15.269(1))

c. The motion to close a part of the meeting to the public which includes a list of the statutory authority to close the portion of the meeting. (M.C.L. 15.269(1))

d. Who spoke and a summary of what was said.

e. A statement of the approval being requested.

f. The location of the property involved (tax parcel number and description, legal description, and common description).

g. The exhibits submitted (list each one, describe each, number or letter each, and refer to the letter or number in the minutes).

h. Information considered (summary of discussion by members at the meeting).

i. The administrative body’s findings of fact.

j. Reasons for the decision that has been made.

k. The decision (i.e., approve, deny, approve with modification).

l. A list of all required conditions to the approval or improvements (and if they are to be built up front, name the type of performance security to be used), if any.

m. The list of all changes to the map/drawing/site plan submitted.

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

Items a-c are required. The other elements are recommended. Start doing so immediately. Minutes for administrative bodies should contain this much detail.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

General Process for Meetings

33. Are the findings of fact based on the record, reports, and supporting documentation provided from the planning commission/zoning administrator?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is recommended but not required. The practice is usually the minimum amount expected. Start doing so immediately.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

34. Does the discussion focus on ensuring conformance with ordinance standards?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is recommended but not required. The practice is usually the minimum amount expected. Start doing so immediately.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

35. Has all discussion occurred in public at a public meeting? (M.C.L. 15.263)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. If not, do it over: hold another meeting, and conduct all the discussion in public. Take steps to make sure all discussion at future meetings takes place in public.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

36. Has appropriate public opportunity for comment been provided before the decision is made? (M.C.L. 15.263)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Doing so is required by the Open Meetings Act. Start the practice of doing so immediately.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

37. Is the discussion taking place between planning commission members only, unless the public or staff has specific questions directed to them to answer? (M.C.L. 15.263(5))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Public participation should occur only during hearings or that part of the meeting set aside for public comment.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

38. Are the findings of fact, reasons, and the decision:

a. Included as part of a motion or motions?

b. Part of the minutes that summarize the discussion, with the decisions and reasons included in a motion or motions?

c. Or a combination of both above? (Article VI, §28 Michigan Constitution)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required for administrative decisions. Start doing so immediately. Each administrative decision should include the action/decision, reasons, and findings of fact.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

39. Does the motion to approve, deny, or approve with conditions state the conclusion and the rationale for the conclusion? (M.C.L. 125.3501, 125.3502, 125.3503, 125.3504(4), 125.3504(5), 125.3604(7), 125.3606, Article VI §28 Michigan Constitution, 125.3861, and 125.3871(6))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required for administrative decisions. Start doing so immediately. Each administrative decision should include the action/decision, reasons, and findings of fact.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

40. If conditions to the approval are imposed, are they:

a. Designed to protect natural resources; the health, safety, and welfare; and/or the social and economic well-being of people?

b. Related to a valid exercise of the police power?

c. Necessary to meet the intent and purpose of the zoning ordinance, related to the standards established in the ordinance for the land use or activity under consideration, and necessary to ensure compliance with those standards? (M.C.L. 125.3504(4))

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

This is required. Start doing so immediately. Each condition should be related to one or more of those three elements and should contribute to further complying with standards in the zoning ordinance or other ordinance.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

41. Has all documentation been filed with the designated keeper of records?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

Start to do so immediately. Also make every effort to recover documentation of past actions so they are placed in the appropriate files.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

42. Do you send a copy of the final action to the applicant by mail or registered mail (return receipt) or personal delivery?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

 

No

Start to do so immediately. Consider amending the bylaws to add specifics on who is responsible to do so.

Check this box:

To indicate this is an improvement that needs to be done.

Check this box:

To indicate when improvement is done.

 

Zoning Administrator

Question

Affirmative (we are doing it) answer

Negative (need to correct) answer

Action to correct has been done

Job Description

1. Does the zoning ordinance provide for a zoning administrator or other means of zoning administration?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is necessary to put actions required in the zoning ordinance into practice.

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2. Does the zoning ordinance assign the duties of the zoning administrator?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

These should be specified in the zoning ordinance.

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3. Does the zoning ordinance give the zoning administrator the power and responsibility of enforcing the zoning ordinance?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This power is not given to the zoning administrator in the zoning ordinance. This should be corrected.

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4. Is there a written job description (for an employee) or a written scope of services (for a contractor) for the zoning administrator?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

One should be prepared and adopted as soon as possible.

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5. Does the job description clearly indicate who the zoning administrator’s immediate supervisor is (chair of planning commission, local government manager, administrator, or chief elected official)?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

An immediate supervisor should be established as soon as possible.

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6. Does the zoning administrator serve only in an advisory role to the planning commission, zoning board/commission, and zoning board of appeals?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

Restrict the zoning administrator to an advisory (staff) role only immediately. The zoning administrator should be subservient to those boards. A zoning administrator should never be a member of those boards.

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7. Do the duties of the zoning administrator entail, at a minimum, the following concerning zoning administration?

a. Administers and enforces the zoning ordinance.

b. Reviews and investigates permit applications to determine compliance with the provisions of the zoning ordinance.

c. Issues the appropriate permit when all provisions of the ordinance have been met.

d. Performs inspection duties to ensure that proposed land use changes are and will remain in compliance with the ordinance.

e. Identifies, inventories, and monitors nonconforming uses.

f. Periodically attends planning commission, zoning board of appeals, and legislative body meetings, and reports on the status of zoning operations and any needed changes to the zoning ordinance.

g. Conducts technical reviews and site inspections, and makes staff reports to the planning commission and zoning board of appeals.

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

Amend the job description or scope of work to include these items as soon as possible, as per the zoning ordinance.

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8. Do the duties of the zoning administrator entail, at a minimum, the following concerning zoning enforcement?

a. Investigates alleged violations of the ordinance and enforces corrective measures when required.

b. Presents case facts and explains decisions of the zoning administrator’s office before the zoning board of appeals.

c. Develops recommendations on zoning amendments, zoning permit fee structures, and zoning forms, and may propose solutions to any problem encountered in administering the zoning ordinance.

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

Amend the job description or scope of work to include these items as soon as possible, as per the zoning ordinance

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9. Do the duties of the zoning administrator entail, at a minimum, the following concerning office administration?

a. Submits, at least monthly, to the treasurer:

1) Transmittal of zoning permit fees collected. 2) Cash.

3) Checks. b. Submits one copy of the zoning permit application to the tax assessor in a timely manner.

c. Administers and follows procedures and policies established for the office.

d. Turns in written reports that include permits issued/denied, appeals, requests for amendments, requests for variances, and other pertinent zoning administration information.

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

Amend the job description or scope of work to include these items as soon as possible, as per the zoning ordinance.

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10. Do the duties of the zoning administrator entail, at a minimum, the following concerning public relations, assistance, and personal development?

a. Provides information on zoning to citizens and public agencies upon request.

b. Helps develop and conduct, in conjunction with the planning commission or zoning board/commission, a continuing program of public education on zoning matters.

c. Takes advantage of continuing education on zoning administration.

d. Performs other duties as specified by local ordinance.

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

Amend the job description or scope of work to include these items as soon as possible, as per the zoning ordinance.

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11. Are any other duties and responsibilities of the zoning administrator, including approval or disapproval of site plans, special land uses, planned unit developments, etc., clearly stated in the zoning ordinance? (M.C.L. 125.3501-125.3509)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is required by the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act. Either the zoning administrator should not be doing those things, or the zoning ordinance needs to be amended to state clearly that the zoning administrator can do so.

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Office Procedures

12. Does the zoning administrator assist citizens in determining what zoning forms and procedures apply to zoning requests and land use changes?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired this practice should be initiated as soon as possible.

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13. Does the zoning administrator make himself/herself available for pre-application conferences if requested by the applicant? (Note: confidentiality is important during and after these meetings.)

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired this practice should be initiated as soon as possible.

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14. Does the zoning administrator assist citizens in the completion of required permit application forms (but not fill out application forms, etc., for the applicant)?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired this practice should be initiated as soon as possible.

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15. Does the zoning administrator review the application to determine if the proposed use is a permitted use in that zoning district?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired this practice should be initiated as soon as possible.

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16. Does the zoning administrator review the application and supporting documents to determine if the physical arrangement of the buildings, driveways, and all other structures complies with all the applicable provisions of the zoning ordinance?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired this practice should be initiated as soon as possible.

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17. If the proposed use in the application complies with the provisions of the zoning ordinance, does the zoning administrator always issue a zoning permit?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired this practice should be initiated as soon as possible.

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18. Does the zoning administrator visit the site periodically to inspect work as it progresses to ensure that work conforms with the zoning ordinance?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This is recommended but not required. If desired this practice should be initiated as soon as possible.

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Filing System

19. Does the zoning administrator keep the zoning map, text, and office records up-to-date by recording all permits, appeals, and amendments, and retaining a copy of all pertinent official documents?

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This practice should be initiated immediately, as per the zoning ordinance. Past records should be found and also placed in files for future reference.

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20. Does the zoning administrator maintain a file for each approved land use activity (special land use, planned unit development, rezoning, or zoning ordinance amendment/adoption) that contains, at a minimum, the following?

a. Affidavits to show the notices were delivered.

b. Affidavits of publication of public hearing notices in a newspaper of general circulation.

c. Lists of those to whom notices were sent.

d. Minutes of public hearings.

e. Certified copies of final motions adopted by the planning commission or zoning board of appeals.

f. A copy of the affidavits of notices sent to other government agencies.

Yes

Good. Go to the next question.

No

This practice should be initiated as soon as possible, as per the zoning ordinance. Past records should be found and also placed in files for future reference.

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To read more about this topic, please go to the PDF provided.

 

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