Flint, MI—A much-anticipated vote to bring Flint’s zoning ordinance into the 21st century was again pushed back this week after a tornado siren ended a Flint City Council meeting early.

The zoning ordinance, which would codify the land-use vision in the city’s Master Plan, was on the council’s July 11, 2022, agenda for public hearing and subsequent second reading and adoption.

Prior to the siren, multiple public speakers and council members spoke in favor of the updated code’s passage.

“This code is very important because it addresses the realities that we have today, whereas the existing code addresses what we thought we were going to need 50-some years ago,” said Elizabeth Jordan, a Flint resident and former commissioner on the city’s Planning Commission. “It didn’t plan for what our neighborhoods need, what our economy needs, what our climate needs.”

Jordan went on to mention that the city’s Master Plan was compiled with the input of thousands of residents and adopted unanimously by the council in 2013.

“I realize it’s been a few years now since the Master Plan was passed, but it passed unanimously by council,” Jordan said. “Having something that passes with that level of unanimous support is really significant and underscores how broadly based consensus and support of this vision truly is and has been for quite some time.”

A vote on the updated zoning code has been in limbo for the better part of 2022, with an earlier attempt to present it at Flint City Council derailed by a disagreement regarding formatting edits and the timeline for providing an updated version to council.

In the meantime, the city’s Department of Planning and Development has been reviewing site plans and potential development ideas based on a zoning code that dates back to the 1960s.

“We never dreamed 50 years ago that GM would basically be gone from the city,” said Councilwoman Judy Priestley during council response. “So yes, I do support the zoning, and it’s time.”

The updated zoning code vote was one of the last items left on the council’s agenda when members abruptly ended the meeting around 11 p.m. after a tornado siren.

City officials have since confirmed the ordinance will be up for a vote on the next regular council meeting agenda on July 25, 2022, and the public hearing on the matter will not need to be repeated since it did take place ahead of the early adjournment on July 11. 

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....