registered property

Asked December 18, 2016, 1:06 PM EST

The following are a couple of excerpts I received from a rant of a resident of the township in regard to our current and future ordinance:

Our zoning in this particular section, would tend to indicate that a probate court, or some legal entity of competent jurisdiction could NOT sell the dwelling and the accessory building separately. Guess can be done ! And, the township cannot stop such a sale. Furthermore, if the new buyer of the accessory building was told, then, that he/she has a non-conforming property, and were prevented from any expansion, that would otherwise be deemed acceptable, we would be sued, and we would lose.

Just to let you all know, we recently (about a year ago) added to our assessing ability, a type of "Google Earth" commercial program that allows us to look at properties from altitude, and since that time, we have found about a dozen pole barns and other structures, that are relatively recent, and never were "permitted" by either zoning, nor building [insp]. We can't, now, order them taken down.....they might be a couple years old, or they might be 20 years old, and their existence would be used as evidence that we are trying to arbitrarily and capriciously attempting to enforce a regulation "selectively". What we are looking for is a set of guidelines that "reasonably" protects the health, safety and general welfare of the property owner, as well as his/her neighbors.

The following, top two are from our current ordinance, and the bottom is from our future ordinance.

  1. Accessory buildings may be placed on a vacant lot or parcel if it is contiguous to a principal use lot with an existing residential building on the residential lot. The lot or parcel must be owned by and deeded to the same owner(s) as long as the accessory building or use continues.

    Definitions: * Contiguous: Two or more lots owned by the same person(s) which share a common border or point and are next to or together in sequence.

    2. R-1 and R-2 District: In the case of an R-1 or R-2 District lot occupied by a dwelling, an accessory
    building may be established on a separate adjacent lot in the same district, or on a separate lot in the same district on the opposite side of the road where such two (2) lots would have a shared property line of any dimension if the road was not present, provided the following conditions are met:

    a. A deed restriction or similar legally binding tool is executed and filed in the county register of deeds
    office providing:

  1. the garage shall only be used as a garage and for the benefit of the subject dwelling.

  2. the two lots may be sold but shall remain under same ownership unless each individual lot complies with all provisions of this Ordinance including minimum standards for lot area, width and frontage.

    b. A plot plan for the garage is submitted and approved by the Zoning Administrator, with such
    approval being subject to the conditions specified in (a)(1) and (2) above.

    c. The accessory building shall not exceed 1,280 square feet in floor area.

    I’ve attended many zoning classes and I’ve learned, our Zoning Ordinance is LAW. I also learned in one of my classes that there is no Statue of Limitations on Zoning. I understand completely you can’t predict what a judge will do.

    My first question is in regard to the first paragraph, can we restrict people from selling their lots separately?

    My second question is, not that I’m looking to do this, can we make these people tear down their buildings if they violate our Zoning Ordinance?

Clare County Michigan

1 Response

Concerning the conversation you received from the property owner. That indicates it is past time to be consulting with the municipal attorney that is hired for planning and zoning work.

My first question is in regard to the first paragraph, can we restrict people from selling their lots separately?
If the division of land is subject to the land division act and reviewed by local government for purposes of review and approval of a proposed split, then yes local government can stop the split of the parcel -- but only if it fails to meet one of the seven reasons in the Land Division Act for denying creation of new divisions.
If the division of land is splitting a lot in a subdivision, and there is a local ordinance for review and approval of splitting existing subdivision lots, then yes -- but the split might still be done via a court-ordered amendment to the plat.
Otherwise no, one can not restrict people from dividing and selling parts of their land (unless it is part of a deed restriction). A person can proceed to sell. But the resulting parcels would be zoning violations, and would not be buildable. That is one would not issue zoning permits for those parcels. (So in theory a person can divide up their land into 1 by 1 foot parcels (one square feet each). But when they tried to get a zoning permit the permit would be denied.)

As to your second question, that is better addressed to the municipal attorney. There are too many variables to be researched. (Yes it could, and has happened. In other situations it does not happen.)

The guidelines for dealing with the several buildings found without permits should also be brought to the attorney's attention and for development of guidelines how those should be handled.