City Wants to get Properties in Conformity with Zoning Ordinance

Dexter Planners Updating Zoning Ordinances

The Dexter Planning Commission is progressing through updates to the city’s Zoning Ordinance with a focus on eliminating nonconforming structures.

The commission is reviewing the changes being proposed by Laura Kreps of Carlisle Wortman, the firm hired by the city to modernize the document. The commission got through Article XXIV, Zoning Board of Appeals; Article XX11, administration and enforcement and Article IV, nonconformities.

Next on the agenda will be reviewing a table of approved and special uses for each zoning district. The objective is to have the uses reflect reality and practicality.

At a work session Feb.1, the commission spent most of its time discussing ways to limit or roll back the number of nonconforming structures and the uses they house. A nonconforming use is one that does not meet the current land use code, Community Development Manager Michelle Aniol said.

Amid all the nonconformities, the city employs a series of checks and balances to ensure property rights are not being trampled.

“In some way a due process is not being provided,” Aniol said.

The city is looking closely at those nonconforming structures when they suffer damage from weather or fire. If a building suffers damage equal to 50 percent of the assessed value or more. The nonconforming status is revoked and any nonconforming use is also prohibited.

“If a structure is damaged, regardless the amount, a nonconforming use couldn’t go back into it,” Aniol said.

The Planning Commission wanted to set up the regulation for those situations accordingly, Aniol said.

“It’s nonconforming for a reason,” Aniol said. “You don’t want nonconformities to continue.”
She cited an example from a few years ago when the city worked hard several years ago to get a tire company (nonconforming) out because neither the owner or the renter wanted to keep up the building.

One area where the city is clamping down on nonconforming buildings is where single-family homes have been converted into duplexes. There are certain zones in town where such homes are not permitted, but allowed because the zone they were in prior to 1995 may have allowed it.
Now when the ownership changes or the use ends, the buildings must be converted back to their original use.
“They can continue to operate, but cannot be enlarged,” Aniol said. “If it is converted to multiple family but ceases operation for six months, it must revert to current zoning single family home.”

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