West Michigan Tiny House News- Vergennes Township, Kent County “Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)” Zonin

Great Lakes Tiny Homes Zoning IntelligenceVolume 4: Vergennes Township, Kent County “Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)” Zoning Ordinance Provision

Through the recent number of inquires, I have decided to focus my tiny house zoning research on the western area of lower Michigan. Today I discovered some exciting news about a community near Grand Rapids, MI. Vergennes Township is located in Michigan’s western Lower Peninsula in the west side of Kent County.

Although this provision calls for the minimum floor area of the ADU to be 400 sq/ft, this is very promising for the tiny house movement in Michigan! I am confident that with the appropriate advocacy efforts, that ordinances similar to this one could become commonplace throughout the United States. I hope you find this information useful!

The Vergennes Township definition of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is listed below:

“Accessory Dwelling: A dwelling unit consisting of either a stick built house, mobile home, converted out-building or other habitable space/structure used in conjunction with the main dwelling for the housing of non-paying visitors, guests or family, separate from the primary dwelling containing separate kitchen, sleeping and bathroom facilities, and not exceed the size of the main floor of the primary dwelling unit.”

Below is a link to the Vergennes Township zoning ordinance. I have also included the excerpt from page 146 where the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) provision is contained.

Vergennes Township Zoning Ordinance


“201.441 Accessory Dwellings 4.41

A. Accessory dwelling units (ADU), as defined in section 201.202, are allowed with a special exception use permit and subject to the following provisions:

1. The design of the ADU shall be compatible with the height, mass, and general design of local buildings and not detract from the general character in the immediate vicinity of the site.

2. A maximum of one ADU is permitted per lot or parcel and must accompany a primary residence.

3. ADU’s shall be allowed in the R-A district and any other residential district on a parcel of at least 2 acres.

4. Setbacks for the underlying zoning district shall apply to ADU’s but it may not be located in front of the primary residence.

5. Height of ADU shall not exceed the height of the primary dwelling.

6. Minimum square footage of an ADU shall be 400 square feet.

7. Maximum square footage of an ADU shall not exceed the size of the main floor of the primary dwelling on the lot.

8. Owners of the property may occupy as a primary residence either the principal or the accessory dwelling but must live on the parcel. For purposes of this section, the “owner” shall mean one who holds legal or beneficial title.

9. Regulations and permits for water and septic/sewer must be approved by the Kent County Health Department.

10. A building permit must be approved and all codes met before a certificate of occupancy is issued.

11. No ADU shall be separated by ownership from the principal dwelling unit unless sufficient land area and frontage is met for the underlying zoning district and the regular dwelling square footage size of the ADU is met or exceeded.

12. Mobile homes must also meet the applicable standards of section 201.415.

13. In addition to parking required for the principal dwelling, sufficient additional parking spaces shall be provided for the accessory residence.

14. The ADU shall not be rented or used for commercial or business purposes.

15. All ADU Permits for second dwelling units shall be recorded with the Kent County Register of Deeds, prior to issuance of any building permit. The purpose of recording the Special Exception Use Permit (SEUP) is to ensure that future property owners are made aware of the conditions and standards under which the second unit was approved and potential revocation for non-compliance with the conditions. The property owner is responsible for recording the SEUP.

16. The application for such special exception use permit shall be made in accordance with section 201.502 of this ordinance.”

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