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Northville continues to examine zoning ordinance

The Northville Village Board of Trustees discussed plans for a new zoning ordinance during a special meeting on Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

NORTHVILLE — The Board of Trustees is taking steps to continue to work on the new zoning ordinance after a proposed new ordinance was defeated in December.

The village board held a workshop on Monday to discuss what direction to go next with the defeated ordinance.

“The new zoning was defeated,” said Mayor John Spaeth. “We have to do something. I think to just make no decision, and more or less default back to the old zoning, isn’t the proper way to do that.”

Spaeth gave the board three options: to start with a zoning ordinance from scratch, to work from the current ordinance which was adopted in 1995, or work with the proposed ordinance and make it less intrusive.

“I definitely think there has to be a happy medium. The old zoning has too little, the new zoning has too much,” said Sue Eckert, trustee.

Spaeth said the reason the village was working to update its zoning ordinance is because they updated the comprehensive plan in October 2017, and state law requires the zoning ordinance be updated in accordance with the comprehensive plan.

He said if someone wanted to do something that is through the comprehensive plan but the zoning ordinance restricts them from seeing their plans through, then that could potentially lead to a lawsuit filed against the village.

For example, Spaeth said the comprehensive plan includes bringing in more residents by building new homes. One way to do that is through trailer homes, however, the zoning ordinance doesn’t allow for motorized homes or manufactured homes.

Spaeth said the village updated its comprehensive plan because they weren’t getting any grants. He said they were denied grants because the comprehensive plan was too old.

“The new comprehensive plan puts us in a better place for getting grant funding,” Spaeth said.

Another example of an issue with the old zoning ordinance is that it doesn’t allow for a daycare.

“Our current zoning defines daycare. It does not show it is promoted anywhere in the village,” Spaeth said. “That’s a problem right there.”

He said there is too much “gray area” in the old zoning and it needs to be more specific. However, the proposed zoning ordinance was “too intrusive” or too specific.

The board decided to pass a motion to take a critical look at the proposed zoning ordinance and work on taking that zoning plan and removing the parts of that plan they feel are unnecessary, making it more compatible with the comprehensive plan.

To make those changes to the proposed zoning ordinance, it would have to go back to Fulton County Planning to approve the changes and then back to their attorney to be put back into final format.

“That whole formal part of the process would have to start over again,” Spaeth said.

By doing this, timing would be crucial as the state grant the village got for the new zoning has a deadline of July 31. Paperwork would have to be filed by late March, early April. If not done by those deadlines, the village could potentially lose up to $40,000.

Trustees agreed that making changes to the proposed zoning ordinance would be the better option and would take less time rather than working from the old ordinance or starting over from scratch.

The Board of Trustees will be seeking help from Scott Henze, Fulton County planning director, and will continue to hold workshops in order to make changes to the zoning ordinance. ­

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