In most cases, streets and alleys within the City were originally established as public rights-of-way by dedication for use by the public when the land was platted by former owners. These areas were set aside and placed under the control of the City, to be used for public purposes such as providing access to each lot and for installation of utilities to service each property. Because of development patterns over the years and changing needs, certain portions of streets or alleys may no longer be needed for these purposes. The following procedures have been established by City Ordinance to provide for changes to streets and alleys which include opening, closing, vacating, extending, widening, or changing names.
1. Any person desiring any of these changes may submit an application requesting the change, along with the required fee ($250) to the Zoning Administrator. The application form is available above or in the Planning Office.
2. Upon receipt of the application and fee, staff schedules a public hearing before the Planning Commission to consider the request, and gives notice of the hearing by publication in the Muskegon Chronicle and by mail to the affected property owners and utility companies. Such notice is given at least ten days before the hearing. (The Planning Commission meets at 4 p.m. on Thursday following the second Tuesday of each month).
3. The Planning staff gathers information pertaining to the area affected by the requested action, and solicits comments from other City departments including Police, Fire, Engineering and Public Works regarding any anticipated affect it would have on access, traffic flow, fire protection, utilities, refuse collection, snow removal, or other factors. Maps are prepared, access requirements are determined, and the site is field checked, photographs or videos are taken as needed, and a staff review report is prepared with recommendations to the Planning Commission. The staff review report will be made available to the applicant before the hearing.
4. The Planning Commission holds the public hearing, at which time the staff review report, map, photographs, and any other pertinent items of information are presented. The applicant is asked to explain the request, and then all other interested persons are given an opportunity to be heard and present objections or support for the requested change. After all the information is presented, the hearing is closed and the Planning Commission makes a recommendation to grant or deny the application, which is then forwarded to the City Commission.
5. After considering the Planning Commission’s recommendation and other related information, the City Commission will grant or deny the request or may delay action to a later time. When a right-of-way is vacated, the City usually reserves easement rights for public or private utilities that may be located in the vacated area.
6. The Planning staff will notify the applicant by mail of the final action taken. In the case of a right-of-way being vacated, the City Clerk within 30 days will record a certified copy of the vacating resolution with the County Register of Deeds and will send a copy to the State Treasure. The resolution to vacate will not take effect until recorded.
7. Upon recording a resolution vacating a street or alley, title to the area vacated vests in the owners of adjacent properties within the same plat. Usually this results in the area vacated being divided in the center. These areas will be added to the descriptions of adjacent properties, and the City Assessor’s records will be adjusted accordingly for property tax purposes.
For assistance or further information regarding the procedures for vacating, closing, or other street and alley changes, please contact the Zoning Administrator or Planning staff in the Muskegon City Hall or by calling (231) 724-6702.
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