The Planning Commission, Planning Director, and staff make decisions on how you can use or develop a property. They go through extensive training using the Zoning Ordinance. However, sometimes people feel that the Commission or staff made a decision in the wrong way. That’s why we have an appeal opportunity to review their decisions.
An appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals is a checks and balance system. They make sure decisions from the Planning Commission and Planning Director are fair. When a decision on development or use of property is made, you can request an appeal.
The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) reviews appeals. The BZA members make a decision about whether the prior decision was made in the correct way.
You can appeal the following decisions:
- Special Land Use
- Optional Plan Review
- Director Review
- Counter Review
- Use Determination
- Administrative Departure
- Code Enforcement Orders
You have 15 calendar days from the date of the Commission's decision to appeal a Special Land Use decision. You have 30 days from the decision date to appeal all other types of decisions listed.
You’ll need to provide the following property and appeal information:
- Property address
- Parcel number
- Lot frontage, depth, and area
- Current use of the property
- Owner approval, contact information, and signature (if different from applicant)
- Date of decision being appealed
- Why you’re appealing the decision
- Why decision doesn’t follow requirements of the Zoning Ordinance (Section 5.13.05. or other sections)
Be prepared to pay the $1,378 application fee. We accept checks, money orders and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover).
Mail, email or drop off your application and documents to us using the information in the Contact Us section of this page.
We’ll review your application and contact you if we need more information. Once the application is complete, we’ll place it on the agenda of the next available meeting of the BZA. We’ll let you know what day and time we scheduled your application.
We publish a notice of your request in the Grand Rapids Press. We also send notice to properties within 350 feet of property of the application.
On the day the BZA reviews your application, Planning staff will introduce your appeal to the BZA. Then, you’ll present your appeal.
The BZA meets in the Public Hearing Room 201 on the second floor of our office. Find the address in the Contact Us section of this page.
After you present your case, members of the Board may ask you or staff questions related to your case. The Board members will then discuss the case with each other in this open meeting. The Board will ask for public comment on your appeal. You’ll hear the Board’s conversation and reasoning as they discuss.
Board members have to follow rules for making decisions. They can only look at the information that was available to the other decision making body. They make their decision based on the review standards in the Zoning Ordinance. These are unique to each type of appeal and you can find these in the Zoning Ordinance.
The BZA can reverse, support, or change the decision being appealed. They can do this for the decision in whole or in part.
After the BZA makes a decision, we’ll send you a letter that documents this ruling.
You can’t appeal the BZA’s appeal decision. However, you can initiate legal action against the City through the court system.