zoning ordinance enforcement

Asked July 20, 2015, 1:58 PM EDT

I am dealing with a Zoning Ordinance, that has an article which was adopted in 1990. This article has never been enforced for the past 25 years. In your opinion, would it be OK to not enforce it now, based on status quo?

Grand Traverse County Michigan

1 Response

That is a question that should be directed toward the township’s municipal attorney (presumably/hopefully an attorney with experience in municipal (planning and zoning) law).

If the that part of the ordinance is still in effect, then it should be enforced. If the political desire is not to enforce it, then that section(s) of the ordinance should be repealed as soon as practical.

There is case law which indicates long term lack of enforcement could jeopardize current or future attempts to enforce that part of the ordinance. This would be of particular concern if the current individual it is being enforced against can make a case of differential treatment (along with being a protected minority, or not). But there might also be an ability to create a record that that part of the ordinance was only recently discovered to have not been properly enforced, and the township is now intending to correct the oversight. But which of these routes, and how that is done, needs to be pursued with the township’s attorney.