The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



STATE OF MICHIGAN

JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL


COUNTIES:

TOWNSHIPS:

ZONING AND PLANNING:

County review of proposed township zoning ordinances


A township board may not take final action on a proposed zoning ordinance before expiration of the 30-day period provided for county review under section 10 of the Township Zoning Act, unless it receives the county's recommendation within that time period.


Opinion No. 7043

February 24, 2000


Honorable Philip E. Hoffman
State Senator
The Capitol
Lansing, MI


You have asked if a township board may take final action on a proposed zoning ordinance before expiration of the 30-day period provided for county review under section 10 of the Township Zoning Act.

The Township Zoning Act (Act), 1943 PA 184, MCL 125.271 et seq; MSA 5.2963(1) et seq, sets forth the procedure governing a township board's adoption of a township zoning ordinance and any amendments to that ordinance. In section 10 of the Act, the Legislature has provided for the submission of proposed township zoning ordinances for county review and recommendation as follows:

Following the hearing, the township zoning board shall submit the proposed zoning ordinance including any zoning maps to the county zoning commission of the county in which the township is situated for review and recommendation if a commission has been appointed . . . and is functioning in the county, or to the county planning commission . . . or, by resolution of the county board of commissioners, to the coordinating zoning committee of the county. If there is not a county zoning commission or county planning commission, the proposed zoning ordinance, including any zoning maps, shall be submitted to the coordinating zoning committee. The coordinating zoning committee shall be composed of either 3 or 5 members appointed by the county board of commissioners for the purpose of coordinating the zoning ordinances proposed for adoption under this act with the zoning ordinances of a township, city, or incorporated village having a common boundary with the township. If the recommendation of the county zoning commission, planning commission, or coordinating zoning committee has not been received by the township within 30 days after receipt of the ordinance by the county, it shall be conclusively presumed that the county has waived its right for review and recommendation of the ordinance. The county board of commissioners of a county by resolution may waive the county review of township ordinances and amendments required by this section.

(Emphasis added.)

Under section 14 of the Act, proposed amendments or supplements to township zoning ordinances follow the same procedure established "for the enactment of the original ordinance." Thus, they must also be submitted for county review as provided in section 10 of the Act.

Under section 10 of the Act, as amended by 1978 PA 637, proposed zoning ordinances were submitted to the county zoning commission "for approval." Section 10 was last amended by 1980 PA 416 to delete the "for approval" requirement and instead to provide "for review and recommendation" at the county level. The word "recommendation" refers to action that is advisory rather than binding. Lucas v Wayne County Bd of Rd Comm'rs, 131 Mich App 642, 662-663; 348 NW2d 660; lv den 418 Mich 945 (1984).

Information supplied with your request indicates that some township boards have been advised that they may take final action on a proposed zoning ordinance before expiration of the 30-day review period provided by section 10 of the Act, and without receiving a county recommendation. Although the county's recommendation is not binding, you ask whether the township board, before it takes final action on the proposed ordinance, must afford the county an opportunity to review the proposed ordinance and give its recommendation during the 30-day period.

The goal of statutory construction is to ascertain and effectuate the Legislature's intent. Donajkowski v Alpena Power Co., 460 Mich 243, 248; 596 NW2d 574 (1999). A statute should be construed so as to effectuate its purpose. Zawacki v Detroit Harvester Co., 310 Mich 415, 419-420; 17 NW2d 234 (1945). In construing a statute, every word should be given meaning and effect if at all possible. Stowers v Wolodzko, 386 Mich 119, 133-134; 191 NW2d 355 (1971).

Section 10 of the Act expressly states that the township shall "submit the proposed zoning ordinance . . . to the county . . . for review and recommendation." Thus, the county's advisory function under the statute applies to a proposed ordinance, not an ordinance that has already been approved by the township board. Section 10 also affords the county 30 days to review the proposed ordinance and to give its recommendation, if any, to the township board. This section further provides that after expiration of the 30 days, it is "conclusively presumed that the county has waived its right for review and recommendation of the ordinance." If the township board may approve a proposed ordinance before receiving any recommendation from the county, then there is no logical reason to impose the 30-day time limit on the county recommendation. Finally, section 10 reiterates that county review of township ordinances and amendments is "required by this section." (Emphasis added.)

Reading section 10 as a whole, it is clear that the Legislature intended that interested counties be afforded the opportunity to review and to make recommendations on proposed township ordinances before they are adopted by a township board. Materials accompanying your request indicate that county review is necessary to consider the impact that a proposed township zoning ordinance may have on units of government adjacent to the township and on the people of the county as a whole. If a township board may approve a proposed zoning ordinance before expiration of the time provided for county review and recommendation, then the legislative purpose of providing county review of the proposed ordinance is thwarted and the county loses its statutory right and opportunity to consider the full impact of the proposed ordinance.

Interpreting section 10 of the Act to require a township board to withhold final action on a proposed zoning ordinance until expiration of the 30-day review period, or until receipt of a county recommendation within that period, serves the legislative purpose of affording the opportunity for county-wide review and recommendation. Moreover, this result gives meaning to all of the provisions of section 10.

Michigan courts interpreting other zoning statutes and charter provisions affording opportunity for review and recommendation have concluded that the decision-making body may not take final action on a proposed zoning ordinance until receipt of a recommendation from the advisory body, or expiration of the review period. See Boron Oil Co v City of Southfield, 18 Mich App 135, 138-139; 170 NW2d 517; lv den 382 Mich 788 (1969); City of Ann Arbor v Northwest Park Construction Corp, 280 F2d 212, 218-219 (CA 6, 1960). Cases in other states have reached a similar conclusion. Maricopa County Bd of Supervisors v Bell 51st Investors, 108 Ariz 261; 495 P2d 1315, 1318 (1972); Reeves v Johnson County Bd of Comm'rs, 226 Kan 397; 602 P2d 93, 98 (1979); Di Ma Corp v City of St. Cloud, 562 NW2d 312, 319-320 (Minn App 1997), 101A CJS, Zoning and Land Planning,  87, p 324.

It is my opinion, therefore, that a township board may not take final action on a proposed zoning ordinance before expiration of the 30-day period provided for county review under section 10 of the Township Zoning Act, unless it receives the county's recommendation within that time period.



JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM
Attorney General