Fees for Professional Reviews

Small towns and rural townships rarely have the kind of professional staff available to perform a thorough technical review of all the complex elements of many contemporary development proposals. Everything from issues associated with stormwater retention, sewage disposal or water supply, or the impacts on wetland species from partially filling a wetland for an access road, may be beyond the scope of local zoning staff. In these cases, a community needs to hire outside professionals to perform reviews of development applications to ensure conformance with ordinance requirements. Communities are often unwilling to hire outside experts because they do not want the cost to be borne by existing taxpayers. A recent appellate court decision has demonstrated that a community can collect fees in escrow to pay the cost of professional reviews, provided the community has a provision enabling such fees in its zoning ordinance, and it returns to the applicant any unused fees (see Cornerstone Investments v. Cannon Township, 459 Mich 908 (1998); after remand, 239 Mich App 98, 1999). This ruling means no community need go without the professional expertise necessary to ensure a project meets ordinance requirements.

For more information on this topic, see Appendix Q – Fee Collection Information.

Credit: Filling the Gaps