Planning & Zoning

Zoning Approval Process

The Community & Economic Development Department (CED) is the first stop to getting a building permit in the City of Ferndale.  Approval by the CED is required for all new construction and for any changes in use of the property.

The City's zoning plan is an important tool for land use management within the boundaries of Ferndale.  Zoning helps us to ensure that a Steel Mill doesn't open up next to your favorite florist.

City of Ferndale Zoning Ordinance

City of Ferndale Zoning Map (ArcGIS)

City of Ferndale Zoning Map (PDF)

Apply for Zoning Determination Request (ZDR)

Central Business District Zoning Map (ArcGIS)

Recent and in-progress zoning changes

For zoning questions, contact our office at 248-546-2525 option 2.  

When is Zoning Approval needed for Building Permits?

Zoning Department approval is needed for all exterior construction and most interior work too. Examples of projects requiring Zoning approval include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Extensions/additions
  • Garages
  • Commercial Parking pads
  • Commercial Fences
  • Decks
  • Swimming pools
  • Signs
  • New building construction

NOTE: A stamped survey is required for approval of all new construction, extensions/additions, and renovations.

Zoning, Site Plan, Special Land Use and Variances?

Zoning Approval:

To determine if a site or building is appropriate for your proposed use, complete and fill out a Zoning Determination (ZDR) form prior to leasing or completing a purchase.  The ZDR determines if the site is zoned correctly for the proposed use.  It also determines if there are any additional special approvals required.

If a use is approved the project may proceed on two potential tracks.

If no site plan approval is required, the applicant may proceed directly to the Certificate of Occupancy process through the Permit Center.  A Certificate of Occupancy is NECESSARY prior to opening any business in the City.

Site Plan Review & Approval:

If a site plan approval is required, the applicant must submit plans in conformance with Article 11, Site Plan Review of the City’s Zoning Ordinance.   Complete site plan packages are submitted to the CED department for review.  Plans are reviewed and a determination is made regarding the plans compliance with applicable requirements. The plan may be approved administratively, (by the CED Director), or forwarded to the Planning Commission for approval.

Special Land Use (SLU):

The City’s Zoning Ordinance identifies what uses are allowed within each individual zoning district. Those uses are divided into two categories, Permitted and Special Land Uses.  Permitted uses are uses that are allowed by right within the district. An applicant must only demonstrate technical compliance with the dimensional requirements of the ordinance for approval.

Special Land Uses are uses that may be allowed in the district only after review of an additional set of criteria, (Article 12 of the City’s Zoning Ordinance). These criteria are established to protect the districts from uses that may be more intense than the permitted uses within that district.  SLU’s require a Public Hearing in front of the Planning Commission and City Council Approval.  All Special Land Use requests must be accompanied by plans and information demonstrating compliance with current zoning requirements and SLU criteria.


There are three types of requests, Use Variances, Dimensional Variances and Sign Variances.

A Use Variance is a request to allow a specific use in a zoning district where it is not currently permitted. Use Variances are permitted in the City of Ferndale.

A Dimensional Variance, (or Non-Use Variance), is a request to vary from a specific dimensional requirement within the Code of Ordinance. Variance requests are subject to a specific set of requirements identified in Article 18 of the City’s Zoning Ordinance.  Any application must address all of the identified criteria.  Dimensional Variances are heard by the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals.  The board MUST agree that an applicant meets all of the necessary requirements prior to approving a request.   

Pre-Development Meetings

Prior to beginning any development process in the City, applicants are encouraged to meet with City staff for a conceptual review of the proposed project. This meeting can help promote a smooth approval process once a formal application is submitted. In order to request a Pre-Development Meeting, please call 248-546-2525 Option 2 or email Kyle Bryce at and Christine Ross at Please view this checklist for information about what to bring to the meeting and what to expect.

For more information about general planning and zoning processes, please see our Guide to Development.


Zoning Updates and Changes

A summary of the City of Ferndale's recent and in-process zoning ordinance amendments

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