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Code evolution

mike gurnee

Is it just me, or have other jurisdictions experienced unofficial evolution of their codes? I mean that provisions over time are interpreted to have different results than the original adopted ordinance.

I see that my former town is increasing the zoning fees, because the current structure does not cover the costs of public notice. But the fee structure that I got approved years ago had a flat application fee PLUS the direct costs of public notice. With the staff turnover (they are on their third director since I left), it appears that the original fee structure was lost--or evolved.

In my current town, I inherited a mobile hme mess. An entire subdivision would be under single ownership, full of single wides and metal skirting, with the lots rented to the unit owner. In other words, a mobile home park without any of the standards.

In researching this, I found that this zoning district permitted individual mobile homes on permanent foundations. Over time, the staff "forgot" the phrase about permanent foundations. And when opportunists bought entire subdivisions and rented them out, the "individual" nature went by the wayside. It evolved from the original intent.

Another in this town is the PUD section of the former code. PUDs were structured as overlay districts, overlaying what the code called the "standard zoning district". Over the years, this changed so radically that the commission would vote on what should be the "standard" district based on the proposal rather than the underlaying zone. Neat way to get a major grocery in a residence zone.

The lesson I have learned is to question EVERTHING when taking a new position.


Cyburbian Emeritus

especially in high growth area with staff turnover! Prudence and I have dozens of local examples. Add "mission creep" to that and we have a volatile situation, my friend!


Oh you see it all the time...the ordinances tend to be interpreted different ways by the different staff over the years.

I'm working on a particular project right now where the twp engineer will not let us use yard inlets, and without them we would need approx 13-16 steps to the front door on most lots to make the grading work. Nowhere in the ordinance does it say you can't put them in, but her interpretation of the townships wishes forbids us ;)