A publication by Networks Northwest in 2014 reported encouragingly that out of the 14 communities found in Leelanau County, 100% of them had a master plan and a zoning ordinance. There was no indication however if these zoning documents were obsolete by today’s standards or best practices.
Community zoning ordinances regulates the goals of a master plan, and in turn help shape the community. If outdated or obsolete they can cause developers and investors to pursue rezoning, seek variance requests, extend project schedules, increased costs, create uncertainty or worse causing them to turn to other communities to do their project.
Zoning documents should also contain up to date development review policies and procedures, ones that are streamlined with well documented development policies to ensure a smooth and predictable experience regardless of the community.
Currently, there’s no way to know if zoning ordinances and development review procedures of all the communities and townships in the county are up to date and reflect zoning best practices. Until completed, there is no way to judge the extent of remediation required nor the time for completion.
LPEF is currently writing a grant whose intent is to focus on convening a meeting of county zoning/planning commissioners and other stakeholders for the purpose of discussing county-wide ordinances and rules and “to consider zoning policy options for housing that expand flexibility in development”.