Old Platted lots and local zoning

Asked March 13, 2015, 9:38 AM EDT

We have two platted lots that were combined years ago and now a new owner wants to split them back to their original 53 ft frontages. Local zoning now requires lots in that district to be 65 of frontage. Does the owner have the right to split them back or does our code now prevail? Tim 231-838-8054. City of Harbor Springs.

Emmet County Michigan

1 Response

The situation is we have one parcel of land that consists of two lots.

The answer to your question will depend largely on how the zoning ordinance is written. If the zoning ordinance defines (or otherwise regulates) two parcels of property with a common boundary and under same ownership as "one parcel" for purposes of zoning, then the ability to sell each lot separately and retain each lot as a buildable parcel would not exist. Domine v Township of Grosse Ile (unpublished No. 217572 (May 18, 2001)) indicates a "lot" in a subdivision does not have any special dispensation because it is a lot in a subdivision. It should be treated as any parcel that is now being proposed to be split into smaller parcels which would be too small for zoning.

However under Michigan's Land Division Act, the property owner does not have to ask for or seek a land division review (so long as not splitting a lot as plated). That "approval" was given upon approval of the subdivision. But if they do so, and zoning is written as explained above, one would not receive a zoning permit to build on the lots (not wide enough) and likely not able to obtain a variance to do so because the problem would be self created.

If the zoning ordinance does not define parcel as explained above, or otherwise recognizes lots in subdivisions as parcels in-and-of-themselves then the owner would have the right to sell each lot separately.

You will need to review the zoning ordinance to determine which situation applies here.