Asked January 21, 2017, 2:43 PM EST

If a single story house has been built with a 20 foot front yard setback and the code minimum front yard setback is 25 feet does that mean that the 5 foot difference would be classified as the nonconforming portion of the house ? If a second story is added to this house can it be built up to the 20 foot setback ? Or would the addition have to begin at the 25 foot setback ?

Wayne County Michigan nonconformity zoning ordinance

3 Responses

Good Afternoon:

I would recommend that you talk with your local or county planning officials or zoning administrator regarding this question. I have included two links to articles located on the Michigan State University Extension Website regarding non-conforming uses, land, and structures.

In summary, based on these two articles and in relation to your question:

Nonconformities are allowed to continue into the future in the same manner and same extent as they existed at the time they became nonconforming. A nonconforming property can be sold and the new owner is permitted to continue its use in the same fashion as the previous owner without any new zoning approvals. However, if a change in a nonconforming use, building, or parcel is proposed, it must conform to ordinance requirements. The ordinance should have established standards and procedures for treatment of nonconformities, with the basic objective being gradual elimination of nonconformities.

Please consult with your planning officials or zoning administrator before having architectural or building plans prepared. This will save you money and time.

Crystal Wilson

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status.

Good Afternoon Ms. Wilson
Thank you for answering my question. It was interesting hearing from you because I have been in contact with Kurt Schindler and he mentioned that you would be a good person to help me get a better understanding of the Zoning Codes, and how they would be applied to the situation I am concerned about.
I am familiar with the code you referenced. I was hoping to get your opinion on the assumption that I had made about the portion of the house as being Nonconforming.
Would it have made a difference if I were to tell you that I am in the City of Dearborn and using the Municode. In the example that I used, and to my knowledge, there is not an Article or an Amendment that would negate the interpretation that I have made about the nonconforming portion of the house I had described.

Edward Makara - Architect Retired
When I was practicing I specilized in Hospital planning and so I was not familiar with residential codes. Now the City of Dearborn has forced me to study the local codes. I know them much better now but not to the extent that Kurt Schindler or you both have.

Good Afternoon:

There should be a zoning administrator, planner, or planning commission staff person who can meet with you to discuss your assumptions regarding the code.

You should not have to learn the code on your own, because there is professional staff whose job it is to review concept plans or site plans, interpreted the codes applicable to the concept plan or site plan, and provide preliminary recommendations. The City of Dearborn will make the final decision regarding the non-conformity, so it’s better to meet with them right away, explain your project and get the city’s preliminary recommendations regarding the direction you should take with this project. It will save you a lot of time and money.

Please feel free to follow up with me and let me know the results of your meeting with the City of Dearborn.