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A variance is a deviation from the set of rules a municipality applies to land use and land development, typically a zoning ordinance, building code or municipal code. The manner in which variances are employed can differ greatly depending on the municipality.
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The purpose of zoning is to regulate property use and development within each district and ensure that the vision in the City’s Comprehensive Plan is consistently met. Zoning divides the city into districts (zones). The districts are shown on the zoning map, and the zoning ordinance lists the rules for each district. Zoning is just one piece of the review of any proposed development or project, which may also entail evaluation for planning criteria (known as Site Plan review), building codes, and life safety codes.
To determine what your property is zoned you will need to use the City’s Interactive Zoning Map. Be prepared to enter in your property address or Parcel ID number.
The Zoning Ordinance lists the rules for each district and how properties can be used. Each zone section has the following information:
Rezoning a property, also known as a map amendment, is an involved process, and success is not guaranteed. Petitioners must provide documentation that the property is appropriate for rezoning based on the principles of zoning and the City’s Master Plan. It then requires public hearing and review through the Planning Commission, and then final approval through the City Council. These bodies would have to find that the zoning is appropriate and not likely to cause negative impacts on surrounding existing uses such as residences.
Setbacks are measured from the actual property lines and not from fences, curbs, sidewalks, or street pavement edges. A property survey may be necessary to verify the location of property lines prior to construction. From the property line, setbacks are usually measured to the foundation edge of the structure.
The City does not have surveys of private property. You will need to hire a professional survey to create a survey for you.
If you will be occupying an existing building you will need to fill out and submit a re-occupancy application. Before doing so please verify that the proposed use is allowed in the existing zoning district for the property. The Planning Department will verify the use is permitted and will pass the application over to the Building Department to schedule inspections and determine any necessary permits. If the property passes the final inspections a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued.
If you are developing a property, you will need to go through the Site Plan approval process. Please contact the Planning Department.
You may fence in the rear yard (back corner of home all the way around to the other back corner of the home) with up to a six foot high fence. Unless you have written permission from the neighbors, the fence must be wholly on your property, good side facing out. The City prefers that chain link fences be removed before installing a privacy fence. If it is going adjacent to a chain link fence it must be either two feet away or 6” up off the ground so that the area between the fences can be maintained. A side yard fence (at 4.5’ high maximum) would be allowed in a side yard if there is a side door to the home on that side or it is at a corner. It can go up to the front line of the home in that case.
A zoning ordinance specifies what types of uses zones allow (ex. Residential, Commercial, Industrial etc.) and also regulates lot size, placement, bulk (or density) and the height of structures. Click to read the City of Westland’s Zoning Ordinance.
Site plans for single-family residential and industrial properties in the industrial subdivisions not adjacent to residential zoning districts are reviewed and approved by the Planning Department. All other site plans require review by the Planning Commission and approval by the City Council.
For a lot/parcel to be buildable it will need to comply with the minimum lot width and minimum lot size requirements for the zoning district in which it is zoned. That information is found in the zoning district under the zoning category after the use lists.
Section 110-5.4 of the zoning ordinance sets criteria to allow the development of certain lots that do not meet current zoning dimensional standards. A nonconforming “lot of record” may be developed if: