aerial of residential streets

How Does Zoning Work?

This course introduces zoning from the vantage point of how its implementation by local governments is similar to the democratic structure of the federal government. Legislative, administrative, and quasi-judicial functions provide a check and balance for each other. This course will also look at the roles different bodies and people perform.

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Course Info

  • Duration 13 video lessons (49 Mins)
  • Published Published
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Browse Course Chapters

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    1. Introduction Chapter Duration 1 min
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    2. What is Zoning? Chapter Duration 6 mins
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    3. Limitations on Zoning Chapter Duration 3 mins
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    4. The Zoning Ordinance and the Plan Chapter Duration 2 mins
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    5. Who Creates the Ordinance? Chapter Duration 4 mins
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    6. The Zoning Ordinance Chapter Duration 3 mins
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    7. The Zoning Map Chapter Duration 2 mins
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    8. Keeping the Ordinance Current Chapter Duration 4 mins
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    9. Nonconformities Chapter Duration 11 mins
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    10. Zoning Administration Chapter Duration 3 mins
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    11. Conditions on Approval Chapter Duration 2 mins
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    12. Standards of Review Chapter Duration 1 min
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    13. Review Activity Chapter Duration 1 min

Course Description

A planner’s job does not end once the comprehensive plan has been adopted. The next step is to review your zoning code and make changes so that the regulations found in the code reflect the development goals outlined in the plan. This course provides a full overview of zoning starting with a description of the Standard State Zoning Enabling Act. This is followed by a closer look at the way in which zoning works in a system of checks and balances, as zoning authority is divided into legislative, administrative and executive branches. This conceptual look at zoning’s function emphasizes the importance for planning officials to follow even the most minor procedural steps. The integrity of planning, maintained through a system of localized checks and balances, ensures that the planning and development processes are as fair and ethical as possible.

After discussing the connection between the zoning ordinance and the comprehensive plan, this course goes into the specific procedures necessary to update the zoning regulations. This includes a comprehensive look at how a zoning ordinance functions, who can make changes to zoning and the importance of the zoning map. After the zoning ordinance is updated, planners are sure to run into nonconforming uses. We conclude this course by describing the rules surrounding nonconformities, conditions on approvals, zoning challenges and standards of review. This course leaves the participant with an understanding of the comprehensive plan’s connection to the zoning ordinance, the procedures to update the zoning ordinance and the challenges that follow the zoning ordinance update.

Learn these skills

  • Land Use
  • Law and Policy
  • Regulations
  • Zoning Codes

Meet Your Instructor

Brad Neumann

Brad Neumann

Brad Neumann is a MSU Senior Extension Educator who serves as an educational resource for local and tribal governments across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Meet Instructor

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