Board Rules and Procedures

These Rules of Procedure are adopted pursuant to Michigan State Public Acts of 1921, Act 207, as amended (hereinafter referred to as the "Zoning Enabling Act of Michigan"), and the Detroit Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance As amend chapter 61(Zoning) of the 1984 Detroit city code (hereinafter referred to as the "Zoning Ordinance").


The Detroit Board of Zoning Appeals (hereinafter referred to as the "Board") shall consist of  not fewer than five (5) Members and not more than nine (9) members  appointed by the City Council for overlapping terms of three (3) years each. The City Council  shall appoint  a Director of the Board who shall serve for a term of six (6) years. Any vacancies on the Board shall be filled by the Council for the remainder of the unexpired term. The members or Director may be removed for cause by the City Council only after hearing and consideration of written charges. The members and Director shall be residents of City of Detroit, and not members of any other City agency, board or department, or commission of City government, except one (1) member shall be a member of the City Planning Commission, as required by MCL 125.3601(7). Compensation of members of the Board and of the Director shall be fixed by Council. The Director shall employ an assistant and other staff. All hearing shall be open to the public.

OFFICE: The Office of the Board is Room 212, City County Building, Detroit, Michigan 48226, and shall be open for the transaction of business from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., each weekday except Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. ALL Communications to the Board shall be addressed to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

OFFICERS: The Officers of the Board shall consist of a Chairperson, and a Vice-Chairperson. The Chairperson shall preside at hearings and meetings, and subject to these rules, shall decide all points of order and shall see that proper procedure is followed.

The Board shall annually elect from its membership, a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson to preside at the Board's hearings or meetings when the Chairperson is absent or unable to conduct said hearings or meetings.

All references to the Chairperson in these Rules of Procedure shall include the Vice-Chairperson, where appropriate.

All references to the Director shall include the Assistant Director where appropriate.

OFFICE OF THE BOARD: The Director, under the direction of the Board shall be responsible for, and shall conduct and administer the affairs of the office of the Board of Zoning Appeals; supervise in the arrangement of all cases and other matters that come before the Board; conduct all official correspondence, send out all notices required by these rules and orders of the Board; prepare all decisions of the Board; attend the meetings and hearings; keep the minutes of the Board's proceedings; compile the required records; maintain the necessary files and indexes and direct all the clerical and technical work of the Board; and in particular cases, make inspection of the buildings premises, land etc., connected with the cases before the Board, and report the result of the findings at the hearing and special investigations requested by the Board.

RECORDS: For each case or matter heard, the Board shall cause a record of its proceedings to be prepared. The record shall include all documents considered in the case together with a transcribed stenographic record of all public proceedings. The transcribed stenographic record shall include, but need not be limited to, the verbatim testimony offered by all witnesses in the case and all personal knowledge of members of the Board considered by the Board in reaching its decision. The record of proceedings shall show the grounds for each decision and the vote of each member upon each question, or, if absent or failing to vote, shall indicate such fact. The record of proceedings shall be filed in the Office of the Board and shall be a Public Record. Each Board Member shall be provided a copy of all documents considered in each case.

MEETINGS: Board meetings shall be held on each Tuesday at 9:00 a.m., except when such day falls on a legal holiday, then the Board shall set a new day within that week. All board meetings shall be open to the public. Four (4) Members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of business.

A resolution supported by four (4) members of the Board may temporarily suspend any rule of procedure or change the date or the time of regular meetings, as set forth in the proceeding paragraph.

A Special Meeting may be called by the Chairperson of the Board upon written requests of three (3) members, provided forty-eight (48) hours notice has been given to each member before the time set for such hearing, except that the announcement of a special meeting at any meeting, at which all the members are present, shall be sufficient notice of such meeting. As of this date, June 8, 1982, the concurring vote of four (4) Board Members shall be necessary to grant a Rehearing and/or Further Hearing.

The Board shall annually, on the first regular meeting of the year, elect its own Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson.

VOTING: Four (4) members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of its business.

The Concurring Vote of a majority of the  Members shall be necessary to reverse any order, requirement, decision or determination of any administrative official, or to decide in favor of the application any matter upon which the Board is required to pass by law, or to effect any variation in the Zoning Ordinance, per Section 1-2-56 of the Detroit Zoning Ordinance.

Every resolution not otherwise provided for shall require a majority vote of the members present at a legally constituted meeting.

ORDER OF BUSINESS: The order of business at Board Meetings shall be as follows:

Roll Call

Approving minutes or previous meetings
Miscellaneous business
Hearing of cases
Unfinished business
Adjournment of cases


Applications of appeals for variance, modification or adjustment of the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance shall be made in the name of the owner of the premises affected. The application may be made, however, by an attorney or agent with proper authorization. The Board of Zoning Appeals may require such authorization in writing from the owner.

The duplicate of each application appealing from an order or determination of an administrative official shall be forwarded to such official, and such official shall forthwith transmit to the Board all the papers constituting the record upon which the action of appeal was taken.

In addition to the information required in said forms, all appeals shall contain all of the following information and data that is pertinent and applicable thereto:

The principal points upon which the appeal is made, based on the application for which the Buildings and Safety Engineering Department issued a refusal, order or decision.

Plan, or lot plots, drawn to scale, showing the actual shape and dimensions of the lot, of the buildings and accessory buildings existing, and lines within which the proposed building is to be erected or altered, the existing and intended use of each building or part of a building, the number of families or housekeeping units the building is designed to accommodate, and such other information with regard to the lot and neighboring lots as may be deemed necessary to properly provide for the hearing of the appeal.

A clear and accurate description of the proposed work or use.

Specific reference to the section or sections of the Zoning Ordinance under which it is claimed the appeal may be granted.

In cases requested by the Board, the names and addresses of owners of all abutting lots, and also the names and addresses of all owners of record of land and property that may be directly affected.

Every appeal shall be taken by the applicant within thirty (30) days from the date that the refusal of the permit by the Buildings and Safety Engineering is transmitted to the applicant, or the date of the order, requirement, decision or determination of such department from which the appeal is taken, provided that the Board may, in exceptional cases for good reason, find it necessary to grant additional time. The date of the decision of the Buildings Department shall not be counted, but the date of filing notice of appeal, together with Sundays and holidays, shall be counted.

All available pertinent information shall be furnished by the applicant. All consents secured by, and copies of all notices given by the applicant, shall be filed with the Board.

When deemed necessary or expedient, the Board may require the applicant to give such further notice to all interested parties as it shall prescribe.

The Director may require of the applicant such additional information and data as is deemed essential to fully advise the Board with reference to the appeal. Refusal or failure to comply on the part of the applicant, shall be grounds for the dismissal of the application by the Board.

EFFECT OF DENIAL: No appeal to the Board which has been denied wholly or in part shall be resubmitted for a period of one year from the effective date of said order of denial, except on the grounds on new evidence or proof of a change of conditions found to be valid by the Board or unless upon remand by a court. Applications for a Rehearing shall be in writing and subject to the same rules as an original hearing.

An appeal stays all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from unless the officer from whom the appeal is taken certifies to the Board, after the notice of appeal shall have been filed with him, that by reason of facts stated in the certificate, a stay would in his opinion cause imminent peril to life or property in which case proceedings shall not be stayed.

Any decision of the Board may be appealed to Circuit Court as specified in Section 605 of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, being MCL 125.3605,within twenty-one (21) days from the date of entry of such decision.


Each application properly filed with the required information and data, shall be numbered serially, docketed and placed upon the Calendar of the Board by the Director for a hearing within thirty (30) days or until the essential information and data can be properly assembled and prepared. The docket numbers shall be hyphenated with the number of the year.
The docket shall be kept posted to date by the Director and shall record the name and address of the applicant, the nature and type of the appeal, the location of premises, the date of hearings and all discontinuances, postponements, dates of sending notice and other steps taken, or acts done and the final disposition of the case.
When the applicants are docketed and placed on the calendar, the Director shall see that all inspections, maps, plats and other required information and data are properly assembled and prepared for the Hearing.
The Board of Zoning Appeals shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing of the appeal and give due notice thereof to all persons to whom any real property within 300' of the premises in question shall be assessed, and to the occupants, of all single and two-family dwellings within 300', such notice is to be delivered personally or by mail addressed to the respective owners and tenants at the address given in the last assessment roll, and shall decide the same within a reasonable time. If the tenant's name is not known, the term occupant may be used. Improvement associations known to exist within 300' shall also be notified.

: The regular order of procedure of hearings shall be:

Presentation of official records of case by the Director of the Board;
Inspection report and slide presentation by the Zoning Inspector;
Chairperson commences questioning petitioner or petitioner's representative;
Opening statements, if any, by counsel;
Presentation of direct case of applicant; cross-examination of applicant's witnesses by attorneys of record or others designated by the Chairperson;

Presentation of objector's case, if any; cross-examination of objector or objector's witness by attorneys of record or others designated by the Chairperson, and where no objectors appear, the record should so show;

Rebuttal, if any;
Statements, if any, of persons either for or against the applicant's proposal and

Minutes shall be kept by the Director in which shall be recorded the resolutions relating to each case acted on, together with the vote of each member of the Board, those absent being so marked, together with all other actions of the Board.

WITNESSES: Testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation. Testimony of witnesses may be by question and answer methods or, at the Chairperson's discretion, in statement form.

EXHIBITS: The Director shall make sure all exhibits are marked for identification and they are offered in an orderly fashion. They shall be made available for examination by any and all parties in interest. Leave to file post-hearing exhibits or information may be sought at the hearing, or thereafter in writing, which may be granted by the Chairperson. In the event leave to file post-hearing exhibits or information is granted, copies shall be served upon interested parties or representatives in person or by United States mail, postage prepaid, and a signed statement that this rule has been complied with, shall be attached to or shall accompany such document submitted.

All exhibits shall be presented to the Director who will examine, mark and distribute them to the Board Members and their interested parties.

EVIDENCE: Hearing shall be conducted in such a way as is calculated to result in a just and lawful determination of the issues as promptly as circumstances shall permit. The Board shall be the judge of the relevance and materiality of evidence that is unduly repetitious or cumulative. The Board may require a preliminary statement of the nature of the evidence proposed to be elicited from any witness.

ADJOURNMENTS: Requests for adjournments shall be made by the petitioner to the Board at the Public Hearing after the case has been called.
ONLY the Board has jurisdiction to GRANT or DENY an Adjournment.

ADVISEMENTS: The Board may choose to take a Case Under Advisement after all testimony has been given, so that absent Board Members can read the Transcript and participate in the voting.

SUBPOENAS: The Board may issue subpoenas to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses or the production of documents as in other cases. Upon failure of any witness to appear or party to produce documents, the Board may apply to the Circuit Court of Wayne County for an order compelling the attendance of said witness, the giving of testimony before the Board, and the production of said document, making refusal subject to such sanctions as the Court may deem it appropriate to impose.

BRIEFS AND ORAL ARGUMENT: The Board may call for briefs, oral arguments, or both, at the conclusion of the hearing or thereafter on matters of law or fact or combination of law and fact. Copies of briefs and of replies thereto shall be served upon all parties. A signed original and four conformed copies shall be filed with the Board. In the event of oral argument, all parties shall be notified and be heard, if they so desire.

DEPOSITIONS: The Board may authorize the taking of depositions either upon its own motion, or upon good cause shown, in accordance with the Rules of Practice set forth in Michigan Supreme Court Rules.


The Board may dismiss an appeal for lack of jurisdiction or prosecution, or may reverse, affirm, vary or modify any order, requirement, decision or determination as in its opinion ought to be made in the premises, and to that end shall have all the powers of the officer from whom the appeal is taken. The final decision of any appeal, variation or exception shall be in writing in the form of a resolution either granting with conditions or without conditions, modifying or denying the application. The concurring vote of the members of the Board shall be in accordance with Section 61-2-56, as amended, of the Detroit Zoning Ordinance, December 22, 1968, which shall be necessary to reverse any order, requirement, decision or determination made by an administrative official charged with the enforcement of the Zoning Ordinance, or to decide in favor of the applicant any matter upon which it is required to pass under such an ordinance or to effect a variation in the ordinance, or to recommend any variation of modification in the ordinance to the corporate authorities. If the resolution fails to receive the prescribed number of votes in favor of the application, the action will be deemed equivalent to a denial and a resolution denying such application shall be formally entered on the record. If a resolution to deny the application fails to receive four (4) votes, then the resolution is not decided and another resolution is in order.

A decision shall be mailed to the applicant in each case and copies of the decision shall be sent to the Buildings and Safety Engineering Department. Upon request, notices of the Board's decisions shall be mailed to individuals or organizations attending public hearing in which said parties have an interest, providing they shall have registered with the clerk on the date of the public hearing.

Unless otherwise recorded by action of the Board, the decision in each case shall not become effective 4:00 p.m. on the third business day after the Board has voted thereon; provided, however, that during this interim a member of Board on the prevailing side may advise the Director he or she intends to move for a reconsideration, whereupon the Director shall enter the time and date of such notice, together with the name of the member, in the record of the case and advise the Board relative thereto at its next meeting. In all such cases, a new vote of the Board shall be required for a final decision.

Any applicant may, with the consent of the Board, withdraw his application at any time prior to the final action thereon, except that if a motion has been made and is pending, such motion shall have precedence.

Any decision of the Board favorable to the applicant shall remain valid only as long as the information or data relating thereto, are found to be correct, and that the conditions upon which the resolution was based are maintained.

Wherever any variation or modification of the strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance is authorized by resolution of the Board, a Building and/or Occupancy Permit shall be obtained from the Buildings and Safety Engineering Department within the specified time of said resolution, and that failure to obtain such building and/or Occupancy Permit within that time will thereby invalidate and terminate this grant, except that the Board may through the Director of the Board of Zoning Appeals Department, Grant an additional final six (6) months or less extension after the expiration date of the original Grant, if this extension expires-- A New Case MUST be filed.

In every grant authorized by the Board, there shall be included as a condition thereof a statement that the applicant agrees to abide by and comply with the provisions of the Building Code, the Health Department's regulations and/or any other ordinance or statute applicable to the location in question, and that the grant only authorizes a variance or exception of the regulations of the Zoning Ordinance, and is not intended to waive the provisions of any other ordinance or statute as amended .

In every grant authorized by the Board, there shall be included as a condition thereof a statement that a Building and/or Occupancy Permit covering this grant shall be secured from the Buildings and Safety Engineering Department before stating any construction, alterations, additions, change of use or change of occupancy, and that failure to obtain such Building and/or Occupancy Permit within the time specified in the grant will thereby invalidate and terminate this grant, provided, no extension of time has been granted.

Any decision of the Board may be appealed to Circuit Court as specified in Section 605 of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, being MCL 125.3606, within twenty-one (21) days from the date of entry of such decision.


Amendments to these Rules of Procedure may be made at any regular meeting upon the affirmative vote of four (4) members.

The suspension of a Rule of Procedure, except those governed by statue or ordinance, may be ordered at any meeting by unanimous vote of those present.

Approved and Adopted by the Detroit Board of Zoning Appeals on June 8, 1992.

Corrected and Recopied: 01-10-89

Amended: 03-31-08