4:1 rule

Asked January 15, 2019, 8:55 AM EST

I recently went before my township zoning board to request a split of my 10 acre parcel. The parcel is 330 x 1340 and zoned A2. Several years ago the Township changed the ordinance to reduce the amount of road frontage required from 330ft to 165ft. I had a survey to split the front corner 2.5 acres thus having 2 parcels of 2.5 and 7.5 acres both with 165 ft of frontage. The zoning board denied my request for a split because the 7.5 acre parcel created violates the 4 : 1 rule in the Michigan Public Land Act.

My question is: Doesn't the zoning board exist to grant variances to The Public Land Act? They claimed that they are unable to go against this Law. Is this correct?

Thanks you.

Monroe County Michigan community planning and zoning land division act

3 Responses

The Land Division Act is what applies in this case, not the Public Land Act. As a property owner, you can apply for a variance to the local government's width-to-depth ratio that is clearly stated in the local zoning ordinance. A local ZBA does not grant variances to state legislation, such as the Land Division Act. It, instead, grants variances to its own local zoning ordinance regulations.
Here is a recent MSUE article with more information on the Land Division Act.
Thank you for your inquiry.

So that means they can grant a variance to the 4:1 rule or to the "flag" lot ordinance?

I am happy to clarify this a bit. It is not entirely easy to discuss. You aren't able to apply for a variance to the state Land Division Act. And it is left to the local government to decide on whether or not you can apply for a width-to-depth ratio variance. If the township addresses width-to-depth ratios and flag lots in their zoning ordinance, then you may be able to apply for a variance. If your local township addresses ratios and flag lots in their "local land division ordinance" only, then you may find that you can't apply for a variance. This is because a ZBA only accepts variance applications for issues that are zoning related, not land division related. If you have been told that you can't apply for a variance, but you feel that you want to look into the issue further, your next step should be to get the opinion of a real estate lawyer. Thank you for your inquiry.