2012 June New Limits on Wireless Zoning

The Governor recently signed into law an amendment to the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act (2006 PA 110) restricting the ability of local governments to regulate wireless telecommunications facilities. Not only for regulation, but because knowledge of broadband capability is critical to local economic development, assessing, etc., the law is an unfortunate step by the State. We joined the MML in lobbying Lansing not to pass this law which has immediate effect.

However, now that it has become law, there are some practical steps to take to ensure that you can protect the health, safety, and welfare of your residents, maximize the tax revenue from wireless facilities and be in compliance with the State.

The major provisions of the law are as follows:

  • The new law prohibits communities requiring Site Plan or Special Land Use approval for modifications or co-locations at existing wireless telecommunications towers.
  • Additionally, a community now has 14 days to review the application and either deem it complete or present the applicant with a full list of missing items, then an additional 60 days to either approve or deny.
  • Communities are still allowed to approve new towers through the Site Plan and Special Land Use processes. The time limit for tower approvals is 90 days after the 14 day initial review period.
  • The law clearly intends to limit the fees that a community can charge for wireless telecommunications applications to $1,000.

The first step to bring your community into compliance is to address any areas of your Zoning Ordinance or your application process that are in conflict with the new state law. Your McKenna planner can help with this process.


You can also be proactive. McKenna has produced Wireless Telecommunication Benchmark Inventories, which will tell officials the locations, carriers, tower characteristics, and market values of the sites within your community. It is crucial that officials compile this information now as a benchmark because the new law will inhibit your future ability to know the extent and location of wireless co-location in your community.

To see an example and discuss the cost and benefits of a benchmark inventory on your community's wireless infrastructure, contact your McKenna planner or Chris Khorey at ckhorey@mcka.com or 888.226.4326 or email us at info@mcka.com.