Master Plan Impact on Residential Rezoning

Asked September 29, 2016, 2:44 PM EDT

If a city's Master Plan recommends that the entire residential area of a city should allow multi-family development, and the current zoning ordinance says this area should be strictly single family, would a developer have a good case in court to have the multi-family structures built? Or would the judge reject the request because the area is zoned for single family, despite what the Master Plan says?

In my city there has been an ongoing issue regarding rezoning from single-family residential to multi-family residential. The Planning Commission adopted a Master Plan amendment last year to allow multi-family dwellings (up to 4 family and townhouses) in the entire single-family residential district. This was part of the Planning Commission's development of a Residential Form Based Code. Residents protested and the Planning Commission has since withdrawn the FBC rezoning ordinance from their agenda, but they are strongly resisting removing the language from last year's Master Plan Amendment. Could a judge allow a developer to build a multi-family unit in the single-family zoned district since the Master Plan recommends multi-family in those areas?

Oakland County Michigan planning and zoning master plan

1 Response

Good Morning:

The Zoning Ordinance will be the document that is enforceable.

To provide you with more details on the difference between the Master Plan and the Zoning Ordinance, I have included a very informative article and link from the Michigan State University Extension Website titled:

Difference between a zoning ordinance and a master plan


Also please reference the article below for more information on these subjects.

Zoning and police power ordinances are not the same, and should not be mixed together


As always, I recommend seeking the advise of your county attorney when there are questions regarding the enforcement of ordinances and decisions made by the Planning Commission.

Have a wonderful day