Pontiac, Michigan Zoning Ordinance and Form-Based Code

The City of Pontiac is the county seat of Oakland County, Michigan. Pontiac is Oakland County’s largest urban community, and for years was the home of General Motors before its relocation to Detroit. In recent years, Pontiac has struggled with residential and industrial disinvestment. Further, the City’s zoning ordinance had become difficult to use and understand as the inevitable result of decades of amendments.

McKenna is working with the City to untangle the zoning ordinance to create a document that is understandable, easy to use, and supportive of the City’s goals. The new zoning ordinance is based upon the recently adopted McKenna-prepared Master Plan and incorporates form-based elements. The zoning ordinance recognizes that Pontiac is a city and should embrace its urban character.

The zoning ordinance supports an economically sustainable community by removing the ordinance as an impediment to economic development. This is accomplished by primarily regulating design elements instead of uses. In fact, the ordinance has replaced over 30 pages of permitted use listings with an easy to use three-page table that shows all uses and zoning districts in one place.

The ordinance will also help create an ecologically sustainable community by incorporating low impact development, alternative energy, and smart growth standards to help reduce the community’s environmental and carbon footprints.