Royal Oak Considers Cleaning Up Codes, Removing License Requirements
(Crystal A. Proxmire, April 11, 2015)
The Royal Oak City Commission will be looking at a slew of local ordinances to remove the ones it deems unnecessary based on staff recommendations. The first of two readings on the proposed changes is scheduled for Monday night’s commission meeting.
According to a memo from Director of Community Development Timothy E. Thwing, “Staff has reviewed the city’s Code of Ordinances to determine if certain chapters that require licenses for various businesses and activities are still necessary or if they can be repealed. Many of these activities are either regulated under the zoning ordinance or licensed by the state. For others there may no longer be any justification for continuing to impose additional licensing and inspection standards beyond what is required during site plan review and permitting procedures.”
Below are the ordinances being looked at and the rationale behind the request.
Chapter 188 – Amusements. This chapter imposes licensing and design standards on gocart tracks, arcades for pinball machines, video games, and other mechanical amusement devices, and public dances. There are currently no go-cart tracks, arcades, or dance halls within the city and any new ones would require review and approval by the planning commission.
Under the current zoning ordinance, amusement arcades are a permitted use in the general business zoning district and a special land use in the central business district. Private outdoor recreation facilities such as go-cart tracks are allowed only in the general business zoning district as a special land use. Dance halls are allowed in the central business district as special land use but only when associated with a restaurant.
Licensing of pinball and video arcades is no longer necessary as such uses are practically non-existent due to advances in in-home gaming systems. Any new arcades would also require review and approval by the planning commission prior to operating. The city has not received an application for a new go-cart or dance hall in several years and any conditions the licensing procedures were intended to prevent can be resolved during the Planning
Commission’s review process.
Chapter 201 – Auctions, Public. Public auctions are currently regulated under this chapter and require a license issued by the city commission. Auctions are not governed under the zoning ordinance unless they are conducted as a full-time business at a given location.
Many common auctions are exempted from this chapter, such as those for foreclosed real estate, charitable fund raising, and abandoned property. There does not seem to be much reason to require such licenses due to the lack of demand for holding auctions within the city that are not already exempted.
Chapter 213 – Books, Magazines and videos, Sale of. Adult book stores are regulated under this chapter and also under the adult-oriented use provisions of the zoning ordinance. The same definitions appear in both ordinances but chapter 213 also contains licensing procedures. Adult-oriented uses including adult book stores are allowed only as a special land use on certain properties in the general business zoning district, and they require review and approval by the planning commission prior to operating. Strict use and placement standards are imposed on all adult-oriented uses under the zoning ordinance. It may no longer be necessary to impose licensing requirements on adult book stores but no other adult uses due to the required standards and review procedures of the zoning ordinance. However, the prohibitions against distributing obscene material under §213-5 may need to be moved into the zoning ordinance or another chapter of the code if chapter 213 is repealed.
Chapter 236 – Chauffeurs and Taxicabs. Licensing and registration of both chauffeurs and vehicles used as taxicabs are imposed under this chapter. Vehicle inspections are also required. These standards are in addition to the state’s licensing requirements for both drivers and vehicles. The chapter does not appear to address ride sharing services such as
Uber and Lyft. Applying our own set of licensing standards appears to no longer be necessary due to the limited number of taxi services based in the city and also considering licensing standards imposed by the state for both vehicles and drivers.
Chapter 244 – Christmas Trees. Sales of Christmas trees are regulated as transient merchants under the zoning ordinance. Separate licensing standards for Christmas tree sales that do not apply to other transient merchants are not necessary.
Chapter 273 – Dirt, Hauling and sale of. Trucks hauling dirt on public streets are subject to traffic laws and do not need to be further regulated under the city’s general code. Removal of topsoil for sale is only allowed as special land use in the general industrial zone under the zoning ordinance. It is not allowed in any other zoning district within the city.
Chapter 363 – Gasoline Service Stations. These uses are allowed only as a special land use in the general business zoning district. They require a public hearing and review before the planning commission. There is no need to enforce separate licensing requirements in addition to the standards required for a special land use permit and site plan review.
Chapter 458 – Merchants and Mercantile Establishments. This chapter requires the licensing of retail merchants but no other commercial uses. Service uses are specifically excluded from licensing under this chapter. All commercial uses require some form of review and approval by either the planning commission or staff, not just retail merchants. These reviews and the required standards of the zoning ordinance eliminate any need to require separate licensing standards on retail merchants that are not required of other commercial uses.
Chapter 463 – Motor Buses. This ordinance was adopted 1927 to apparently regulate private busses or busing companies. Since such companies no longer exist there’s no need to license them. Drivers and vehicles are still required to be licensed by the state.
Chapter 475 – Moving Contractors; Moving of Buildings. This chapter regulates the moving of buildings to different sites in the city. Placement of any building within the city – whether it is built on-site or moved from another location – must meet the use and dimensional standards of the zoning ordinance. Other codes cover the closing of streets, vehicles used to move buildings, etc. This chapter can therefore be repealed as the moving of buildings is adequately regulated under other codes.
Chapter 580 – Restaurants, Drive-in. This chapter established licensing and design standards for drive-in restaurants in 1952 during the height of their popularity. Most of these standards are also imposed under the zoning ordinance, and others are covered by Oakland County’s health department. Review of site plans is also required under this chapter, but the “liaison committee” established to review them no longer exists. There is no need to require this license since the drive-in restaurants the chapter was intended to regulate have long since closed. New ones, such as Sonic, can be adequately reviewed under the zoning ordinance.
Chapter 593 – Second Hand Goods; Junk. Under the zoning ordinance, junkyards are defined as “salvage yards” and allowed only as a special land use in the general industrial zoning district. Separate design standards are also imposed under the zoning ordinance and they require review and approval by the planning commission prior to operating. It does not appear necessary to impose separate licensing requirements on junkyards due to the required zoning ordinance standards.
Chapter 698 – Trampoline Facilities. These uses are defined as a recreation facility under the zoning ordinance and require approval by the planning commission. Staff sees no reason why trampoline facilities should be singled out for licensing while other recreational uses and facilities are not.
Chapter 727 – Vehicles, Sale of. The State of Michigan licenses automobile dealerships. Therefore, there is no need for the city to do the same. Dealerships are only allowed in the general business and general industrial zoning districts and require approval of the planning commission before opening. Specific design standards are also imposed under the zoning ordinance.
For the full City Commission agenda, go to http://romi.gov/sites/default/files/meetings/City%20Commission/2015/0413-2015A.html.