Flint, MI—More than half a year after the city’s failed attempt to pass an updated zoning ordinance, Flint’s director of planning and development reported a new draft ordinance will be presented to Flint City Council’s legislative committee on April 20.

“I know you’ve heard this before,” said Suzanne Wilcox to the Flint Planning Commission on April 12. “But I do finally have dates from the city clerk, and so April 20th is the day.”

Flint’s current zoning ordinance has portions dating back to the 1960s, before some of today’s city council members were born. Efforts to update it have gained renewed support in recent months following permitting complaints to council and the formation of a grassroots group, Flint Residents for Stronger Neighborhoods, which has begun garnering support for the ordinance through discussions about Flint’s Master Plan.

While the city’s Master Plan was adopted in 2013, the zoning ordinance needed to implement it was not. Instead, Flint’s Planning Commission passed an updated draft ordinance in 2017, but it wasn’t until 2021 that the updated ordinance was adopted, in part, by Flint City Council.

But adopting only part of the code ended up causing a host of confusion, and the ordinance was deemed invalid the same year.

Since then, the city has continued to use Flint’s old zoning ordinance while the Department of Planning and Development drafts another update to comply with the city’s charter as well as local and state laws.

“Suzanne: thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Planning Commissioner Robert Jewell in response to Wilcox’s update.

“We will be presenting next week to city council,” Wilcox concluded. “So there’s some movement, and we have some optimism, and I’m going to keep my fingers crossed.”

After the legislative committee discussion, the draft zoning ordinance will need to come before Flint City Council for further discussion and approval.

Wilcox said she estimated her department could bring the full ordinance to Flint City Council by the latter’s first meeting in May should the April 20 presentation to the legislative committee prove successful.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined 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 issues....