Fremont Community Joint Zoning Ordinance

Table of Contents

Chapter 11: Joint Zoning Board of Appeals

Section 11.01: Joint Zoning Board of Appeals – Creation and Membership

  1. There is hereby established a Joint Zoning Board of Appeals (JZBA), which shall perform its duties and exercise its powers as provided in the Zoning Act.

  2. The JZBA shall consist of nine (9) members, three from each participating municipality. The municipalities’ Board or Council shall appoint their respective representatives on the JZBA. Each member shall hold office for a three (3) year term. When members are first appointed, the appointments may be for fewer than 3 years to provide for staggered terms. One (1) of the municipalities’ representatives shall be a member of the Joint Planning Commission who shall serve the term as provided on the Joint Planning Commission. A member of each Township Board and the City Council may also be a member but may not chair the Board.

  3. Alternates

    1. The Township Boards and City Council may each appoint one alternate member from their respective municipality for a total of three (3) alternates that will have the same term as regular members of the JZBA for their respective municipality.
    2. An alternate member may be called to sit as a regular member of the JZBA in the absence of a regular member for the purpose of reaching a decision in a case where the regular member has abstained for reasons of conflict of interest.
    3. The alternate member having been called shall serve on the JZBA until a final decision is made on the application for which the member was called.
    4. When serving as a member, an alternate member shall have the same voting rights as a regular member of the JZBA.
  4. Members of the JZBA may be removed by the Board or Council of the participating municipality in which the member resides for nonperformance of duty or misconduct in office upon written charges. The member so charged may request a public hearing before the respective Township Board/City Council, prior to the Board/Council making a decision.

  5. A member shall self-disqualify from a vote in which there is a conflict of interest. Failure of a member to self-disqualify from a vote in which there is a conflict of interest may constitute misconduct in office.

Section 11.02: Joint Zoning Board of Appeals – Meetings and Procedures

  1. Meetings and Procedures
    1. Meetings shall be held at a fixed place and shall be open to the public.
    2. Five (5) members of the JZBA shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of its business.
    3. Applications submitted to the JZBA shall consist of the following, as applicable:
      1. An application form
      2. A scaled drawing, if applicable, with sufficient detail to indicate the nature and necessity of the request.
      3. Payment of a fee, as may be prescribed by the FCJPC and approved by the Boards and Council of each governmental unit. The fee shall be paid to the governmental unit in which the subject property is located at the time of the filing of the application.
      4. The JZBA, in furtherance of decisions related to the application, may request other materials as may be deemed necessary. To this end, the JZBA may subpoena and require the attendance of witnesses, administer oaths, and compel testimony and the production of books, papers, files and other evidence pertinent to the matters before it from any person or from any participating municipality.

Section 11.03: Joint Zoning Board of Appeals – Jurisdiction, Powers and Duties

  1. Jurisdiction, Powers and Duties

    1. Appeals
      1. An appeal may be taken from any person or any governmental department affected or aggrieved, and review any order, requirement, decision or determination where it is alleged by the appellant that there is error or misinterpretation in any order, requirement, decision, grant or refusal made by the Zoning Administrator or other administrative official or body charged with the enforcement of any Chapter adopted pursuant to the Zoning Enabling Act.
    2. An appeal shall be filed with the JZBA within twenty-one (21) days of the vote or the decision being appealed. The filing shall specify the grounds of the appeal. The appeal shall be transmitted to the JZBA together with all the papers constituting the record upon which the action being appealed is taken.
    3. An appeal shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from unless the Zoning Administrator certifies to the JZBA, after notice of appeal has been filed, that, by reason of the facts stated in the certificate, a stay would cause imminent peril to life or property. In such case, the proceedings shall not be stayed other than by a restraining order, which may be granted by a court of record.
    4. The JZBA shall hold a public hearing on the appeal, give notice thereof as required by the Zoning Enabling Act, and render a decision on the appeal without unreasonable delay. A person may appear and testify at the hearing, whether in person or by duly authorized agent or attorney.
    5. In deciding the appeal, the JZBA shall be limited to determining whether or not the decision that was made was done so using the proper requirements and standards in the Ordinance. The decision of the JZBA is limited to the information that was available to the administrative official or body who made the decision initially. Additional testimony is not appropriate.
    6. If a determination is made that the administrative official or body making the decision did so improperly, the JZBA may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify, the order, requirement, decision or determination appealed from, and may make an order, requirement, decision or determination as ought to be made, and to that end shall have all the powers of the administrative official or body from whom the appeal was taken.
    7. The JZBA may hear and decide appeals from the decisions of the Zoning Administrator pertaining to interpretations of the Zoning Map to determine the precise location of boundary lines between zoning districts. In making its determination of the boundary lines, the JZBA shall be governed by the rules of this section and the provisions of Chapter 10 “Zoning Map” and shall render its decision within a reasonable time following a public hearing, as required in the Zoning Enabling Act.
    8. Site Plan review decisions may be appealed to the JZBA, as set forth in Chapter 10 “Administration” of this Ordinance.
    9. Appeals of Planned Unit Developments or Special Land Use Permit decisions are prohibited.
  2. Non-use Variances

    The JZBA, after a public hearing, shall have the power to decide applications for non-use variances filed as provided in this Section. A non-use variance may be allowed by the JZBA only in cases where there is evidence of practical difficulty in the official record of the hearing and that all of the following conditions are met:

    1. That there are exceptional or extraordinary circumstances or conditions applying to the property that do not apply generally to other properties in the same zoning district. Exceptional or extraordinary circumstances or conditions may include:

      • Exceptional narrowness, shallowness or shape of a specific property on the effective date of this Chapter or amendment; or

      • Exceptional topographic or environmental conditions or other extraordinary situation on the land, building or structure; or

      • The use or development of the property immediately adjoining the property in question; whereby the literal enforcement of the requirements of this Chapter would involve practical difficulties.

    2. That the variance is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of a substantial property right similar to that possessed by other properties in the same zoning district and in the vicinity. The possibility that compliance with the Ordinance may prove to be more costly or time consuming shall not be part of the consideration of the JZBA.

    3. The variance will not be detrimental to adjacent property and the surrounding neighborhood.

    4. The variance will not materially impair the intent and purpose of this Chapter.

    5. That the immediate practical difficulty causing the need for the variance request was not created by the applicant.

  3. Interpretations

    The JZBA may, after a public hearing held in accordance with the Zoning Enabling Act, decide upon requests for the interpretation of the text provisions of this Ordinance.

    1. Text interpretations shall be narrow and address only the situation to be interpreted, based on a thorough reading of this Chapter and shall not have the effect of amending this Ordinances

    2. Interpretations shall give weight to practical interpretations by the Zoning Administrator and other administrative officials if applied consistently over a long period of time.

    3. Records shall be kept of all ZBA interpretations

    4. Where the intent of this Ordinance is unclear and the facts can be read to support equally more than one (1) interpretation, the benefit of doubt shall go the property owner.

    5. The JZBA shall not consider variances regarding variables regulated by the Land Division Act, such as the 1:4 lot width-to-depth ratio, access requirements or number of divisions allowed, nor shall it consider variances concerning the number of splits associated with sliding scale zoning.

Section 11.04: Joint Zoning Board of Appeals – Hearings, Voting Requirements and Decisions

  1. Hearings

    1. The ZBA shall conduct a public hearing prior to making any determinations permitted by this Ordinance.
    2. Notice of a hearing shall be given in accordance with the requirements of the Zoning Act.
    3. The JZBA may require notices to other interested parties, as it shall prescribe.
  2. Voting Requirements

    The concurring vote of at least five (5) members of the JZBA is necessary to decide any matter upon which the JZBA is authorized by this Chapter to render a decision.

  3. Decisions

    1. In making any decision provided for in this Chapter, the JZBA may attach conditions regarding the location, character and other features of the application as it may deem reasonable in furtherance of the intent and spirit of this Chapter and the protection of the public interest or as otherwise permitted by law.
    2. An appeal from a decision of a zoning board of appeals shall be filed within 30 days after the zoning board of appeals issues its decision in writing signed by the chairperson, if there is a chairperson, or signed by the members of the zoning board of appeals, if there is no chairperson, or within 21 days after the zoning board of appeals approves the minutes of its decision.
    3. The decision of the JZBA shall be final; however, any person having an interest affected by the decision shall have the right of appeal to the Circuit Court on questions of law and fact. An appeal to Circuit Court shall be made within the time limits imposed by the Zoning Enabling Act.
    4. Any approval given by the JZBA under which the premises are not used or work is not started within one (1) year, or when the use or work has been abandoned for a period of six (6) months, shall lapse and cease to be in effect.
    5. No application which has been denied wholly or in part by the JZBA shall be resubmitted for a period of one (1) year from the date of the last denial, unless permitted by the JZBA after a demonstration by the applicant of a substantial change of circumstances from the previous application.


  1. See Chapter 3 “General Provisions” for standards the Joint Zoning Board of Appeals is to consider when analyzing a request to review a nonconforming use being changed to another nonconforming use.

  2. See Chapter 4, Article 1 “Agricultural Preservation District (AG-1)” for JZBA procedures and additional standards to be adhered to regarding appeals or requests for variances from determinations concerning the 11- point rule.

  3. See Chapter 10 “Administration” for procedures and additional standards to be adhered to regarding unlisted uses or uses which can reasonably be interpreted as being essentially the same in character as a use listed in a District.