Approving our Zoning Board of Appeals minutes

Land use experts can help answer questions.

Michigan State University Extension has an Ask an Expert function that helps residents ask relevant questions to experts in many fields.  One recent question was directed to me asking, “What is the correct way to handle minutes from our Zoning Board of Appeals meetings because they meet so infrequently?  In some cases, it could go a year or more before they meet so having board members look over the minutes and approve them at the next meeting doesn’t seem to be the best way as they could easily forget what exactly happened at the meeting and there could be board turnover.  Is it possible to email the minutes to everyone once they are completed for approval or just have the chairman approve them?”

I was only familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised 11th ed. which allows for a committee to be appointed to approve annual minutes as an example for an assembly that holds it general membership meeting only one time per year and requirements of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act. To answer the question, I reached out to MSU Extension Land Use Expert, Brad Neumann. Brad Neumann was able to explain, “in the case of ZBA minutes, they are approved at the next board meeting just like the minutes of other public bodies according to the Open Meetings Act.” “The public body shall make approved minutes available for public inspection within five business days after the meeting at which the minutes are approved by the public body” (MCL 15.269(3)). There is no exception to this rule in the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act.  He adds that, “Due to the fact that many ZBA’s meet infrequently, it is recommended that a ZBA issue its decisions in writing, signed by the chairperson, in order to establish an earlier ‘end date’ on when an aggrieved party can appeal the decision (see MCL 125.3606(3)).”

That portion of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act states: “An appeal from a decision of a zoning board of appeals shall be filed within whichever of the following deadlines comes first:
(a) Thirty days after the zoning board of appeals issues its decision in writing signed by the chairperson, if there is a chairperson, or signed by the members of the zoning board of appeals, if there is no chairperson.
(b) Twenty-one days after the zoning board of appeals approves the minutes of its decision.”

Michigan State University Extension Educators can provide your organization with assistance in learning more about land use. The Government and Public Policy team also offers training for elected and appointed officials for improved effectiveness in several areas, including various public policy issues and effects of government programs, regulation, incentives, strategies and more. By working together with local elected and appointed officials, and interested citizens, MSU Extension is able to provide education on critical local and state issues. To contact an expert in your area, visit MSU Extension’s expert search system or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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