Small townships.

Asked August 29, 2015, 12:06 PM EDT

If a very small township has a out of date zoning ordinance adopted in 1996, are they able to rescind or repeal the entire ordinance and not have zoning in the township at all? Has this been done? If so, what are the options for this process. If not, what budget friendly ways can officials correct an entire zoning ordinance to make it stronger and more enforceable?

Marquette County Michigan

1 Response


Yes, a township board can repeal/rescind a zoning ordinance. Similar to amending an ordinance (see, repealing an ordinance requires passage of another ordinance. The township board would follow a similar process to that of amending an ordinance to do this (e.g. notice the community in a newspaper of general circulation and hold a public hearing). See Check List #4 For Adoption of a Zoning Ordinance Amendment (available at

That said, a zoning ordinance from 1996 is actually rather contemporary. Many townships have ordinances that were adopted in the 70s (or even earlier). Amendments to comply with new laws and court cases are certainly needed periodically and if this hasn't happened the ordinance could have some deficiencies from a legal standpoint, but that does not necessarily mean the entire ordinance should be repealed. One way to approach an update is to hire a planning and zoning consultant or contract with the regional planning commission (the Central UP Planning and Development Region - to do the work.

Also, with proper training through programs like the Citizen Planner program (, local planning commissioners and township board trustees may gain the knowledge they need to make basic amendments to the ordinance.

If you have more specific follow-up questions, don't hesitate to email me directly at