Public Control of Land Subdivision in Michigan: Description and Critique

Michigan seems to be unique in having three separate subdivision control statutes. The Plat Act of 1929, like the Subdivision Control Act of 1967 which will soon replace it, is largely mandatory, prescribing standards and procedures required in all cases of land subdivision (as defined in the statute), whether the municipality in which the land is located has a planning commission or not. The Municipal Planning Act, on the other hand, is simply an enabling act, permissive both with respect to establishment of a planning commission and with respect to the exercise by that commission, once established, of the power to regulate land subdivision. When a municipality does establish such a commission and undertakes to control land subdivision within its corporate limits, subdividers still remain subject to the mandatory requirements of the Plat Act or (after January I, 1968) the Subdivision Control Act of 1967 if their projects fall within the definition of “subdivision” in those acts, in addition to the municipal planning commission’s regulations governing the subdivision of land within its jurisdiction. Unfortunately, however, there has been no attempt to integrate the Plat Act or the Subdivision Control Act of 1967 with the subdivision control sections of the Municipal Planning Act-indeed, neither makes any reference to the other-although in fact in many municipalities subdividers are subject to both types of regulation.