A glimpse of the quick pace of planning- and zoning-enabling legislation

The state of Michigan moved to unify zoning and planning enabling laws in 2006 and 2008. Before then, the state had three different laws governing planning and three different laws for zoning.

The state of Michigan establishes planning processes through state laws known as “enabling” legislation. Since all local units of government are creatures of the state of Michigan, their processes and actions as local units of government are controlled and allowed through legislative acts.

Before 2008, the state of Michigan had different planning laws that governed different local units of government. In 1931, Michigan enacted Public Act 285, the Municipal Planning Act. In 1945 the County Planning Act was enacted and in 1959 the Township Planning Act was established. These different acts regulated the planning actions of the different forms of government: cities, counties, townships and villages.

Then in 2008, a light bulb went on and the state unified the Municipal, County and Township Planning Acts into one all-encompassing act known as Public Act 33, the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. The state took similar actions with the zoning ordinances.

Michigan enacted the City Village Zoning Act in 1921, Public Act 207. Twenty-two years later the state enacted the County Rural Zoning Enabling Act, Public Act 183. During that same year, the Township Rural Zoning Act, Public Act 184 was enacted. Then, in 2006 Michigan enacted P.A. 110. This act unified Acts 207, 183 and 184. The unifying act was amended in 2008.

The net results are laws that govern the various governmental forms that local units of government take. They provide ways for local units of government to work together on planning and zoning issues. They define the organization and structure of the various boards and commissions that operate to address local planning and zoning issues. And to think, it only took 63 years to unify zoning enabling legislation and only 49 years to do the same for planning.

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