Planning faculty Richard K. Norton writes on controversial gravel mining case, zoning lessons for Michigan Planner

Chair and Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Taubman College, Richard K. Norton, published his article “Kyser v. Kasson Township: Lessons for Local Master Planning and Zoning in Michigan” in the latest edition of Michigan Planner.

Norton writes about why the Kyser v. Kasson Township case is important to local community planning and zoning in Michigan. This case “speaks to fundamental debates about how best to use natural resources, how to balance the benefits of resource use with resulting impacts to the community, and—equally if not more importantly—who gets to decide.” The case highlights the role of local master planning when it comes to zoning decisions that regulate other natural resource extraction activities, such as gravel mining.

In the article Norton summarizes the history of gravel mining and zoning laws in northwest Michigan, where Kasson Township is located (about 30 miles west of Traverse City), from the late 1980s—when Edith Kyser signed a petition opposing a proposed rezoning for a neighboring property that would have allowed a new gravel mining operation, claiming the rezoning would impose a negative impact to the larger community—to today. Initially disagreeing with Kyser, the trial court that once ordered the township to rezone her property was overruled by the Supreme Court when it recognized a mistake had been made and reaffirmed the applicability of “the proper, deferential due process adjudicatory test” for resolving local zoning disputes.

Norton addresses foundational concepts on the adjudication of zoning disputes, along with insight into legal consequences. Concluding that Kyser is “more than just a gravel mining case,” Norton relates lessons for local master planning and zoning in Michigan, including the idea that localities should “engage their planning and zoning efforts in a way that will enable them to respond when confronted with a zoning decision such as a requested rezoning.”

For more about this issue, read about it in the American Planning Association’s archive of filed briefs (see Kyser v. Kasson Township (2009)).