Flint, MI—After months of confusion, Flint’s Department of Planning and Development has clarified that the city does have a valid zoning code—it’s just not the code that passed in July 2021.

In an effort to get its draft zoning code adopted, the department planned to present the draft’s 18 articles to Flint City Council six at a time “due to the sheer volume of information that it contains,” according an emailed statement from Suzanne Wilcox, director for the Department of Planning and Development.

“After City Council adopted the first 6 articles, it was learned later that in order to be in compliance with the Charter and other requirements, 5 of 6 articles were published,” Wilcox explained in her statement. “The City researched the matter and has concluded that due to the differences between Michigan law and local laws, the 6 articles are not in effect.”

But having the city’s invalid new code blended with its old code made issuing planning and permitting approvals uncertain and effectively stopped them altogether.

That stop has frustrated Flint’s developers and business owners, like commercial property owner Victor Korea, who shared how the delay was stopping him and the city from generating revenue during a Nov. 3 City Council meeting.

Wilcox said the City became aware of the zoning code’s problem in “mid or late August,” but she did not directly respond to the question of what was done to inform applicants or potential applicants at that time.

Instead, she noted that once the city was aware of the invalid code, the Planning Commission “along with the Law Department, City Administration and the City Clerk’s office” assessed next steps and “determined that there are no restrictions preventing the Commission or Planning and Development from moving forward under the City of Flint’s current zoning code.”

Wilcox said that “processes are being put in place to ensure that after the draft Zoning Code is adopted, all appropriate steps are strictly followed for the enactment of the new Zoning Code.”

However, the timeframe for the draft zoning code’s adoption remains unclear.

“The entire process will take some time, but we have a plan that we believe will allow City Council and the public to ask questions and become comfortable with the contents of the draft Zoning Code hopefully within several months,” said Wilcox.

The director confirmed that applicants who submitted site plans between the time the six updated zoning ordinance articles were adopted on July 21, 2021 and the time the City realized they were not in-effect will not need to resubmit. She said the city will continue to review applications “under the old (current) zoning code” and that all approvals given under the old code are still in effect.

Kate Stockrahm

Kate is Flint Beat's business and nonprofit reporter. She joins the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered...

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