Zoning Ordinance Variance Information

Ordinance History and Statistics

Lately there has been a significant amount of conversation regarding the City of Mt. Pleasant’s restaurant drive through vehicle stacking requirements. Therefore, what better time to review and share the history and process of zoning ordinance and variance information. The City’s zoning ordinance requires 200 feet of stacking space to enable safe traffic flow and avoid any backups on City streets and sidewalks. This standard, adopted by the City Commission in 1984, applies to all restaurant drive throughs established since that time. There are currently 22 drive through restaurants in the City averaging 227 stacking feet. The average amount of stacking plus additional on-site overflow is 319 feet.

The Process

Businesses wishing to establish a drive through must:

  • Apply to the Planning Commission and receive approval of a special use permit. This process includes a review ensuring all ordinance requirements are met and a public hearing is held. In general, special use permits are established to address potential impacts on neighboring properties and the general public.
  • If a business does not believe they can meet one or more of the requirements for a drive through they can apply to the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and request a variance (a modification of requirement).

Per the State of Michigan’s Zoning Enabling Act, the ZBA acts as a quasi-judicial body reviewing local zoning ordinance cases. The ZBA is a separate entity from the Planning Commission, City Commission and City staff. The ZBA must review a request for variance against criteria related to practical hardship (that is, the need for a variance arises from a circumstance unique to the property which is not the result of actions taken by the applicant.) A variance cannot be granted in situations where the standards of the ordinance can be met.

Variances require the approval of a majority of the members of the ZBA, which for the City of Mt. Pleasant’s ZBA is three affirmative votes. As specified by the State of Michigan’s Zoning Enabling Act, applicants who wish to appeal a ZBA decision may do so at Circuit Court. ZBA decisions are not appealable to any other board or public body under state law.

Recent Variance Request

On December 15, 2021 the ZBA reviewed a request for two variances from the City’s standards for drive through restaurants. One was a variance related to screening, which was approved. The second was a reduction of the required vehicle stacking from 200 feet to 120 feet which failed to receive the three votes required for approval.

The City Commission discussed this specific case at its January 24, 2022 meeting. Per State of Michigan law, the City Commission is unable to hear an appeal of any ZBA decision, nor is it able to refer the ZBA to review the same issue again. However, the City Commission did direct the Planning Commission to review the City’s drive through stacking requirement standard and provide options, if any, for the City Commission to consider. This review will occur at the Planning Commission’s March 3, 2022 meeting.

The City has not issued any tickets or halted drive-through operation through this process, and the City Commission has directed City staff to continue to stay enforcement related to the drive through stacking requirement while this ordinance is being reviewed.

City to Offer Hybrid Meeting Option

Starting January 2022, the City of Mt. Pleasant will be offering a combination of in-person and virtual attendance (hybrid meeting option) for its City Commission, Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals meetings. This is an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Meetings will take place in the City Chambers/City Hall (320 W. Broadway Street). The virtual attendance options for non-voting participants include viewing on the City’s YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/MtPleasantMi/, on Spectrum Charter channel 188, or via Zoom.

If a virtual option becomes unavailable due to technical difficulties, the meeting will continue as scheduled. Residents who would like to provide a comment during the appropriate time are welcome to come to the meeting at City Hall, or email their statement to comments@mt-pleasant.org.

Meeting agendas, packet materials, and step-by-step instructions on how to virtually attend a meeting are available under City Updates on the City’s website at www.mt-pleasant.org.

Persons with disabilities needing assistance to participate may call the Human Resources office at (989) 779-5314. Persons requiring speech or hearing assistance may contact the City through the Michigan Relay Center at 711.  A 48-hour advance notice is necessary for accommodation.

Public presentations of City of Mt. Pleasant’s 2050 Master Plan draft scheduled

The City will present the draft 2050 Master Plan to the public during a series of meetings held in October. The draft plan can be viewed online at www.mtpleasant2050.com.

On Thursday, October 3, project consultant, McKenna & Associates will present the plan to the Downtown Development Authority at 10 a.m., the Parks and Recreation Commission at 6 p.m., and the Planning Commission at 7 p.m.

On Monday, October 14, McKenna & Associates will present the plan to the City Commission at 7 p.m.

All presentations will take place at City Hall, 320 W. Broadway Street. The Planning Commission and City Commission presentations will air on Channel 188 and will stream live on the City’s YouTube page.

In April 2019, hundreds of community members participated in formal and informal activities hosted by the City of Mt. Pleasant and McKenna & Associates. During this four-day event participants shared their vision for Mt. Pleasant in the year 2050. Hundreds of additional stakeholders also participated by completing online surveys, which further refined the vision.

“The bold vision established by this plan reflects the valuable input the community provided on Mt. Pleasant’s strengths and opportunities,” said Mt. Pleasant City Planner Jacob Kain. “The hundreds of individuals who took part in this process set the direction and momentum which has ultimately shaped the draft plan. We are excited to take the next step in the planning process by introducing the draft plan to the community.”

The draft plan establishes goals and objectives organized into the following themes: Sustainable Land Use, Connected Mobility Systems, Focused Redevelopment, Exceptional Parks and Public Spaces, and Innovative Services and Aspirations.

The formal adoption of the plan is expected to occur in 2020.

Topics to watch at the Mt. Pleasant City Commission Meeting scheduled for February 25, 2019

Here are the topics to watch at the Mt. Pleasant City Commission meeting scheduled for  7 p.m. on February 25, 2019 at City Hall, 320 W. Broadway Street.  Please note that a joint meeting of the City Commission and Planning Commission begins at 6:00 p.m.

-City Commission and Planning Commission joint meeting (start time 6:00 p.m.) to discuss the 2018 Annual Report and 2019 priorities.

-Discuss reconstruction design of Maple Street and confirm current design.

-Consider resolution authorizing an amendment to the Standard Lighting Contract between the City and Consumers Energy for new LED street lighting on Maple Street and budget amendment for the same.

-Consider Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) resolution adopting Collins Drive into the local street system.

-Consider amendment to airport snow removal and snow hauling contract and budget amendment for the same.


5 things to watch at the next City Commission meeting

2017-city-commissionMount Pleasant City Commission meetings are held at City Hall on the second and fourth Monday of every month. Meetings begin at 7 p.m.

Here are five things to watch at the March 13 City Commission meeting…

  1. Special Meeting: Prior to the start of the regular meeting, a special meeting with the City Commission and Planning Commission will include a presentation on new regulations for medical marijuana facilities licensing, followed by a discussion of next steps for the City. (See the agenda for the Special Meeting here.)
  2. Presentation of 2016 Community Improvement Awards: Since 1979, the Planning Commission has presented Community Improvement Awards for rebuilt or renovated residential and/or commercial properties. These awards are a way for the Planning Commission to thank and acknowledge the property owners for investment in our community and making our neighborhoods better places to live.
  3. Schedule public hearings regarding housing license fees and fines: The City Commission will consider setting public hearings for March 27 on the proposed rental housing licensing fees to be implemented July 1, as well as the new penalty amounts for owners and property managers who fail to obtain housing licenses.
  4. Renewals of facility agreements with community organizations: The City Commission will consider the renewal of a five-year facility agreement with the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan for the Jane Harris Girl Scout cabin located in Chipp-a-Waters Park. The Commission will also consider the renewal of a 10-year facility agreement with the Mt. Pleasant Lions Club for a storage building at Pickens Field.
  5. Bids and quotations: The City Commission will consider approving a number of bids and quotes recommended by City staff for the following purchases and/or services:
    • Grounds Mowing
    • Tractor
    • High Service Pump Rehabilitation
    • Primary Sludge Pump Replacement

 To see the full City Commission agenda and packet for March 13, 2017, click here