Township of Lawrence, MI
Van Buren County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 4-12-2018]
A. 
The provisions of this chapter shall be administered by the Township Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Board of Trustees in accordance with Act 33 of Michigan Public Acts of 2008,[1] as amended, and Act 110 of the Michigan Public Acts of 2006, as amended.[2]
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 20, Code Adoption, Art. II)]
[1]
Editor's Note: See MCLA § 125.3801 et seq.
[2]
Editor's Note: See MCLA § 125.3101 et seq.
B. 
The Township Board of Trustees shall employ or designate a Building Official to act as its officer, or officers, to effect the proper and consistent administration and enforcement of this chapter. The terms and conditions of employment or designation shall be established by the Board of Trustees.
C. 
A "building official" is the officer or other designated authority charged with the administration and enforcement of the Lawrence Township Building Code, or his or her duly authorized representative, and is also known as the "Zoning Administrator" for purposes of this chapter.
D. 
The designation of a building official may be by ordinance or resolution.
E. 
The Building Official is tasked with enforcement of this chapter, and the Code of the Township of Lawrence, Chapters 2, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17, 19, and 26, and all other Lawrence Township ordinances related to land use and construction. The Township may employ multiple building officials with equal, overlapping, and/or distinct authority. A building official may take actions that require a license under state or federal law only if duly licensed. A licensed building official may provide the factual support for a citation or action initiated by another building official or enforcement officer.
[Amended 4-12-2018]
The Building Official, Planning Commissioner, or other person or entity tasked by ordinance or resolution with the enforcement of this chapter, while acting for the Township, shall not thereby render himself/herself liable personally, and he/she is hereby relieved from all personal liability for any damage that may accrue to persons or property as a result of any act required or permitted in the discharge of his/her official duties. Any suit instituted against any of the aforementioned because of an act performed by him/her in the lawful discharge of his/her duties and under the provisions of this chapter shall be defended by the legal representative of the Township until the final termination of the proceedings. In no case shall any of the aforementioned be liable for costs in any action, suit or proceeding that may be instituted in pursuance of the provisions of this chapter, and any of the aforementioned acting in good faith and without malice shall be free from liability for acts performed under any of its provisions or by reason of any act or omission in the performance of his/her official duties in connection herewith.
It shall be the responsibility of the Building Official to enforce the provisions of this chapter and in so doing shall perform the following duties:
A. 
Issue permits. All applications for building permits shall be submitted to the Building Official, who shall issue building permits and certificates of occupancy when all applicable provisions of this chapter have been complied with.
B. 
File applications. The Building Official shall maintain files of all applications for zoning permits and for certificates of occupancy and shall keep records of all zoning permits and certificates of occupancy issued. These shall be filed with the Building Official; such files and records shall be open to public inspection. Copies shall be furnished upon request to any person. Cost for these copies will be determined by the Board of Trustees.
C. 
Official copies. Maintain one official copy of an updated zoning ordinance and Zoning District Map, and its amendments.
D. 
Inspections. The Building Official or his/her authorized agent shall be empowered to make inspections of buildings or premises in order to properly carry out the enforcement of this chapter.
E. 
Record of complaints. The Building Official shall keep a record of every identifiable complaint of a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, and of the action taken consequent to each such complaint; such records shall be public record.
F. 
Report to Township Board. The Building Official shall report to the Lawrence Township Board at least quarterly summarizing for the period since the last previous report of all building permits, and certificates of occupancy, all complaints of violation, all appeals, variances and exceptions granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals and state action taken subsequent thereto. Closed files shall be forwarded to the Township Clerk.
The following provisions shall apply, subject to the approval and/or upon the request of the Township Board.
A. 
Adopt rules and guidelines for the proper administration and enforcement of this chapter.
B. 
Act as a policy board on matters of enforcement and administration of this chapter not covered by adopted rules or guidelines.
C. 
Conduct public hearings.
D. 
Make comprehensive review and recommend changes to this chapter every five years.
E. 
Review all proposed requests for special use permits and/or amendments to this chapter for compliance with requirements of this chapter based on Articles VII and XII and thence recommend appropriate action to the Township Board for approval, disapproval or modification.
F. 
Planning Commission members shall attend training sessions as required by the Township Board of Trustees.
A. 
The Planning Commission shall adopt rules and regulations to govern its procedures. The Planning Commission shall appoint one of its members as Chairperson. The concurring vote of a majority of the members of the Planning Commission shall be necessary to revise any order, requirements, decision or to decide in favor of an applicant any matter upon which it is required to pass under this chapter or to effect any variation in this chapter.
B. 
Meetings of the Planning Commission shall be held at the call of the Chairperson and at such other times as the Board in its rules of procedure may specify. Minutes shall be kept of each meeting, and the Commission shall record into the minutes all findings, conditions, facts, and other relevant factors, including the vote of each member upon each question or, if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and all of its official actions. All meetings and records shall be open to the public. All minutes shall be filed in the office of the Township Clerk.
C. 
The Planning Commission shall fix a reasonable time and date for a hearing. The Commission shall give due notice of the hearing by mail to the parties of interest and to owners of adjacent properties. Where the hearing, in the opinion of the Township Attorney, concerns matters of general applicability in the Township and does not concern only individual lots or parcels, such notice shall be given in a newspaper of general circulation in the Township. However, the Planning Commission shall also notify the parties of interest by mail. All notices of a hearing shall be mailed and published at least five days prior to the date on which the hearing is to be held.
[Amended 4-12-2018]
D. 
Waivers; consultation with Township Attorney; exceptions.
[Added 4-12-2018; amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 20, Code Adoption, Art. II)]
(1) 
The Township of Lawrence recognizes that its ordinances may require a matter to be heard in a regular meeting, with a particular amount of notice, manner of notice, or similar requirement, but that hearing or noticing a matter in such a way may be impractical, create a hardship on an applicant, or have other issues or adverse effects. Therefore, this chapter's provisions that require a type of a meeting, method of notice, notice period, or other similar or related matter may be waived by the person permitted to call any such meeting or provide said notice. This waiver is permitted only if the subsequent scheduling, meeting, and/or notice is consistent with state and federal law and regulations.
(2) 
This provision allows the person permitted to call a meeting the needed flexibility, regardless of the use of mandatory language such as "shall" in particular sections of this chapter. This applies to but is not limited to § 1-5.5J regarding the ZBA, § 1-7.1C(1) regarding the Planning Commission, § 1-7.1C(3) regarding the Board, and other sections.
Excavation for building or structure shall not be commenced, the erection, addition to, alteration of, or moving of any building or structure shall not be undertaken, or any land shall not be used, or an existing use of land shall not be changed to a use of the different type of class, until a zoning permit or a certificate of occupancy has been secured from the Building Official. A zoning permit shall not be issued for those uses requiring a special use permit, as provided for in this chapter, until a special use permit has been approved in compliance with the provisions of Article VII of this chapter. A zoning permit shall not be issued for those uses requiring more than 10 parking spaces until the site plan has been reviewed and approved, as provided in Article VIII of this chapter.
A. 
Suspension of permit. Any permit issued shall become invalid if the authorized work is suspended or abandoned for a period of six months after the time of commencing the work, unless in the case of building permits the development proposed shall have passed its first building inspection or is extended by the Building Official.
B. 
Previous approvals. Nothing in this chapter shall require changes in the plans, construction or designated use of a building for which a lawful building, electrical, mechanical or plumbing permit has been heretofore issued or otherwise lawfully authorized, and the construction and/or installation of which shall have been commenced within 90 days after the effective date of this chapter; and the entire building or installation shall be completed as authorized within two years after the date of approval of the application or as extended by the Township Board, based upon showing a good cause.
C. 
Revocation of permits.
[Amended 4-12-2018]
(1) 
No person or entity may make any false statement or misrepresentation in procuring any permit or approval, whether in the application itself, any submitted documents, photos, exhibits, or written or oral statements, and regardless of whether such permit or approval is issued by a Building, Electrical, Plumbing, Mechanical, or other Official or agent, the Township itself, or subdivision thereof, such as the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Commission, a department, or other subdivision, including but not limited to special use permits, building permits, variances, permissions to use public facilities, and any other permits or approvals of the Township. This includes any false statements or misrepresentations, regardless of intent, knowledge, negligence, or culpability of the person or entity holding the permit or approval, whether said statements or misrepresentation were made by the holder of the permit or approval, an applicant, an agent of either, a predecessor, or other person or entity if said statement or misrepresentation was material to the granting of the permit or approval. This may allow for the revocation of the historic permit or approval, and may result in subsequent or contemporaneous permits or approvals being revoked.
(2) 
Nothing in this chapter should be construed to limit the revocation of permits or approvals in a municipal civil infraction under Chapter 25 of the Code of the Township of Lawrence, which may be required to give effect to this chapter. This chapter does not affect the Township's ability to revoke permits and approvals under other law or regulations.
D. 
Inspection. The Building Official shall cause to be made the appropriate inspections as required under the State Construction Code and state amendments.
E. 
Fees. All fees for inspection and the issuance of permits or certificates required under this chapter shall be collected by the Building Official in advance of issuance. The amount of such fees shall be established by resolution of the Lawrence Township Board of Trustees and shall be in an amount sufficient to defray the cost of inspections and supervision necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this chapter.
No land shall be occupied or used and no building shall be used or changed in use until a certificate of occupancy or zoning permit shall have been issued by the Building Official, stating that the building and its intended use comply with the provisions of this chapter.
A. 
Certificates for existing buildings. Certificates of occupancy may be issued upon request for existing buildings, structures, or parts thereof, or existing uses of land if, after inspection, such uses of land are in conformity with the provisions of this chapter.
B. 
Administration of zoning permits and certificates of occupancy. In cases where a building permit is required under the State Construction Code, the application and issuance of a zoning permit and a certificate of occupancy shall be fully coordinated and integrated into the building permit application and inspection process. As such, an application for a building permit shall also serve as an application for a zoning permit, and the granting or final approval on a building permit shall constitute a final approval of a zoning permit and eligibility for a certificate of occupancy.
A. 
Violations and penalties. The Building Official shall enforce the provisions of this chapter. Violations of any provisions of this chapter are declared to be nuisance per se.
[Amended 4-12-2018]
B. 
Enforcement procedure. It shall be unlawful for any person to commence operations of any kind that are in violation of the terms of this chapter, and any violations shall be subject to the penalties herein prescribed.
(1) 
Inspection of violation. The Building Official or his agent shall inspect each alleged violation of this chapter within a reasonable period of time of receipt of a notice of an alleged violation and issue an order to correct to the offender.
(2) 
Correction period; requirements of notice.
[Amended 4-12-2018]
(a) 
Whenever a violation has been confirmed by the Building Official, the Building Official shall give notice, in writing, by First Class Mail addressed to the owner and occupant of the property where the violation exists and to any person(s) otherwise responsible for said violation. The notice shall specify the location and nature of the violation, and shall indicate that the owner, occupant or person otherwise responsible is required to abate or correct the violation or file the necessary appeal forms with the Zoning Board of Appeals, and shall state the appeal period for appealing the violation with the Zoning Board of Appeals as established by general rule of the Zoning Board of Appeals. The resumption of a corrected or abated violation shall be deemed a continuing violation and must be appealed within the time set by general rule of the Zoning Board of Appeals. If the occupant or owner of the premises is unknown or cannot be located, notices shall be given by posting a copy of said notice upon a conspicuous part of the property where the public nuisance is located and by mailing a copy of said notice by First Class Mail, addressed to the owner or party in interest at the address shown on the current tax records. A violation not corrected within the specified time shall be referred to the Township Attorney.
(b) 
Pursuant to MCLA § 125.3604(3), the appeal to the ZBA stays the further proceedings unless the body or officer from whom the appeal is taken certifies to the Zoning Board of Appeals after the notice of appeal is filed that, by reason of facts stated in the certificate, a stay would in the opinion of the body or officer cause imminent peril to life or property; proceedings may be stayed only by a restraining order issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals or a circuit court.
C. 
Any person found to have violated any of the provisions of this chapter by a court of competent jurisdiction, is responsible for a municipal civil infraction under Chapter 25 of the Code of the Township of Lawrence.
[Amended 4-12-2018]
D. 
Cumulative rights and remedies. The rights and remedies provided herein are cumulative and in addition to any other remedies provided by law.
E. 
The Building Official shall refuse to issue new zoning permits to a person who has refused to correct violations of this chapter or the current State Construction Code in a timely manner on the subject property or any other property within the Township.
In the interpretation, application and enforcement of this chapter, whenever any of the provisions or limitations imposed or required herein are more stringent than any other law or ordinance, then the provisions of this chapter shall govern, provided that whenever the provisions of any other law or ordinance impose more stringent requirements than are imposed or required by this chapter, then the provisions of such other law or ordinance shall govern.