Chapter 3
Special Exemption Permit Review

6.301 Purpose.

The development and execution of this ordinance is based upon the premise that the city is divided into districts within which the uses of land and buildings and the bulk and location of buildings and structures in relation to the land are substantially uniform. It is recognized, however, that there are special exception uses which, because of their unique characteristics, cannot be properly classified as a principal permitted use in any particular district or districts without considering, in each case, the impact of those uses upon the surrounding neighborhood. These include public and private uses that are of such an unusual nature that their operation may give rise to unique problems that impact upon neighboring property or public facilities.

This Chapter is intended to provide a consistent and uniform method for review of special exception permit applications, ensure full compliance with the standards contained in this Ordinance and other applicable local ordinances and state and federal laws, achieve efficient use of the land, minimize or prevent adverse impacts on neighboring properties and districts, protect natural resources, and facilitate development in accordance with the land use objectives of the Master Plan and any sub-area or corridor plans.

6.302 Procedures and Requirements.

A.    Initiation of Special Exception Permit. Any person having a freehold interest in land, a possessory interest entitled to exclusive possession, or a contractual interest which may become a freehold interest and which is specifically enforceable, may file an application to use the land for one or more of the special exception uses provided for in this section in the zoning district in which the land is located.

B.    Submission of Application. Any application shall be submitted through the planning administrator on a special form for that purpose and shall be accompanied by the payment of the proscribed fee. No part of any fee shall be refundable after planning staff has begun review of the application.

C.    Data Required. Every application shall be accompanied by the following information and data:

1.    Application form filled out in full by the applicant, including a statement of supporting evidence showing compliance with the requirements of Section 6.303.

2.    Site plan or plot plan that complies with the site plan submittal requirements of Section 6.208.

D.    Planning Commission Public Hearing. Prior to making a decision on a special exception permit, the Planning Commission shall hold a public hearing for the purposes of soliciting public input and establishing a record of public comment on the special exception permit application. The public hearing shall be held in compliance with the requirements of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, PA 110 of 2006 (as amended), as set forth in Article 6, Chapter 9.

E.    Planning Commission Decision. The Planning Commission may approve, approve with conditions, or deny a special exception permit application. The decision on a special exception permit shall specify the basis for the decision, and any conditions of approval imposed on the application.

1.    Approval. Upon determination that a special exception permit proposal is in compliance with the standards and requirements of this Ordinance and other applicable ordinances and laws, approval shall be granted.

2.    Approval with Conditions. The Planning Commission may impose reasonable conditions with the approval of a special exception permit. Conditions imposed shall further one or more of the following criteria:

a.    Conditions shall be designed to protect natural resources, the health, safety, welfare, and social and economic well-being of those who will use the land use or activity under consideration; residents and landowners immediately adjacent to the proposed land use or activity; and the community as a whole. Such considerations may include, but are not limited to vehicular or pedestrian traffic, compatibility with the Master Plan, potential impact on surrounding land uses, off-site impacts, and aesthetic quality.

b.    Conditions shall be related to the valid exercise of the police power, and purposes which are affected by the proposed use or activity.

c.    Conditions shall be necessary to meet the intent and purpose of the Zoning Ordinance, related to the standards established in the Ordinance for the land use or activity under consideration, and necessary to insure compliance with those standards.

3.    Denial. A special exception permit application shall be denied upon determination by the Planning Commission that the proposed use or development does not comply with the standards and regulations set forth in this Ordinance, or otherwise will be injurious to the public health, safety, welfare, or orderly development of the City.

F.    Coordination with Site Plan Review.

1.    Two-Step Site Plan Process (preliminary and final). When a two-step site plan review process is used, the Planning Commission shall consider the preliminary site plan and special exception permit simultaneously, and shall act upon the special exception use prior to any action on the preliminary site plan.

2.    One Step Site Plan Process. If the applicant chooses a one-step site plan approval process (see Section 1.101. A), the Planning Commission shall act upon the special exception permit prior to acting upon the final site plan.

G.    Resubmission. A special exception permit application that has been denied shall not be resubmitted for a period of 180 days from the date of denial, except on grounds of new evidence or proof of changed conditions found by the Planning Commission to be valid.

H.    Appeals. The decision of the Planning Commission may be appealed to the City Council by the applicant or any owner of property within 300 feet of the property in question. Request for appeal must be made by written letter to the planning administrator within ten days of the final action taken on the special exception permit by the Planning Commission.

I.    Permit Expiration. A special exception permit issued under this section shall be valid for a period of 365 days from the date of the issuance of said permit. If construction has not commenced and proceeded meaningfully toward completion by the end of this period, the planning administrator shall notify the applicant and Planning Commission in writing of the expiration or revocation of said permit. Upon written request received by the City prior to the expiration date, the Planning Commission may grant one (1) extension of up to 180 days, provided that the approved special exception use conforms to current Zoning Ordinance standards.

J.    Revocation. A special exception permit can be revoked by the Planning Commission under the same procedure as the section used to approve it if it is found that it no longer meets the standards of this ordinance.

K.    Conditions and Guarantees. Prior to the granting of any special exception permit, the Planning Commission shall stipulate the conditions and restrictions upon the establishment, location, construction, maintenance, and operations of the special exception permit as deemed necessary for the protection of the public interest and to secure compliance with the standards and requirements specified in this Ordinance. In all cases in which special exception permits are granted, the Planning Commission shall require any evidence and guarantees as it may deem necessary as proof that the conditions stipulated in connection with the special exception permit are being, and will be, complied with. Any conditions imposed shall remain unchanged except upon the mutual consent of the Planning Commission and the landowner. Planning staff or the building official shall maintain a record of any granted changes to the conditions.

6.303 Standards for Approval.

A.    The request for special exception permit approval must meet the following general standards, as well as any specific requirements for the requested land use in Article 2, Chapter 5. The Planning Commission shall review each application for the purpose of determining that each use on its proposed location will:

1.    Be harmonious with and in accordance with the general principles and objectives of the comprehensive master plan of the City of Pontiac.

2.    Be designed, constructed, operated and maintained so as to be harmonious and appropriate in appearance with the existing or intended character of the general vicinity by way of size, character, or location.

3.    Not change the essential character of the area in which it is proposed, and not adversely affect the development or redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood.

4.    Not be hazardous or disturbing to existing or future uses in the same general vicinity and will be a substantial improvement to property in the immediate vicinity and to the community as a whole.

5.    Be served adequately by essential public facilities and services, such as highways, streets, police, fire protection, drainage structures, refuse disposal water and sewage facilities and schools.

6.    Not involve uses, activities, processes, materials, and equipment or conditions of operation that will be detrimental to any person, property or general welfare as a result of producing excess traffic, noise, smoke, fumes, glare, or odors out of proportion to that normally prevailing in the particular district.

7.    Maintain all proposed structures, equipment, or materials in a readily accessible manner for police and fire protection.

6.304 Operation and Maintenance in Accordance with Special Exception Permit Approval.

It shall be the responsibility of the owner of the property and the operator of the use for which a special exception permit has been granted to develop, improve, operate and maintain the use, including the site, buildings and all site elements, in accordance with the provisions of this Ordinance and all conditions of special exception permit approval until the use is discontinued. Failure to comply with the provisions of this Section shall be a violation of the use provisions of this Ordinance and shall be subject to the same penalties appropriate for a use violation.

The City may make periodic investigations of developments for which a special exception permit has been approved. Noncompliance with Ordinance requirements or conditions of approval shall constitute grounds for the Planning Commission to rescind special exception permit approval.