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Zoning questions for new Haunt property purchase - 30 Acres Acquired.

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  • Zoning questions for new Haunt property purchase - 30 Acres Acquired.

    So we have finally acquired a permanent location for our haunted attraction - We have purchased 30 acres of vacant land of the highway just 5 miles difference from where we currently set up each year.

    We are in the process of getting everything surveyed so we can start working on the site plan to submit to the township. The township has been great so far and seems very willing to work with us at this point. We plan on building a "town center" that will be the main area with "side streets" leading to our two major attractions, we will also be building a large trail that will circle out of town and re-enter.

    I know this question will vary greatly on the area, township, state, etc. - I am curious how similar haunts deal with the adding and changing of "Structures" - We were told we need to have a site plan submitted with all the buildings we intend to put on the property, but some of the structures/buildings will be changed each year such as the smaller building on the trail portion. Do you generally need to submit a new plan each time you wish to change up the layout, or does that just apply to "Permanent" buildings.

    We are set to open at the new location in 2022 after our current three year contract is up, so it gives us 3 years to get things all ready to go.....or 12 months Michigan Build Weather time.

    Any help - suggestions - tips - etc. On this subject....or the subject of building a "Scream Park" from "Scratch" feel free to chime in.
    Last edited by Evernight; 02-10-2019, 09:57 PM.

  • #2
    What exactly are your questions... bullet point them. Larry
    Larry Kirchner


    • #3
      Ok lets see - The main question would be, for those that have built an attraction on vacant empty land with no existing structures -

      Do you generally need to submit a new plan to the local township for approval each time you wish to change up the layout, or does that just apply to "Permanent" buildings? I would ask our local zoning but they are currently replacing the guy I would need to talk to and it may be a few months - So just gathering information ahead of time.

      Other questions -

      Which do you prefer - a straight up ticket that covers all attractions? Or an "A'la carte" Ticket system where they can pay for whatever attractions they wish to go through? Or possibly a punch card, or ticket system where they purchase X amount of punches or tickets and each one is good for one haunt of their choice?

      Do you think it is better to have the haunts flow from one to the next, having all guests start at the same haunt and work their way to the ending haunt - or to give them "Free reign" to choose what haunts they want to do in any order they wish? We intend to have two large indoor haunts and a large trail, as well as "town center" with a midway, food, etc. to start with - possibly adding a corn maze and hayride in following years.

      When doing a trail through the woods on a large property is it recommended to fence in the perimeter of the trail to avoid people leaving the trail? - In our current location we seem to always have a group or two just decide they know some other route that we hadn't thought of, even though it is clearly marked and easy to follow due to it's smaller size - Our new trail will be 3-4 times larger.


      • #4
        In a previous life I was a city planner (worst job ever), then a zoning consultant. Every city or county will have its own zoning ordinances, so it really depends upon your local codes. Generally speaking, however, if the property’s zoning allows for your intended use “by right” (i.e. no conditional use or special use permits required) you can add/remove structures with a simple building permit. However, if your property has an overlay or Planned Unit Development designation, you will have to submit for a minor (staff level) or major (public hearing) site plan review when you add structures. Also, watch out for fire sprinklering thresholds when you add structures. Find out which fire code your city/county has adopted. We are on the IFC here and pretty much any structure with a roof covering is required to be sprinklered.

        Get to know your local zoning official. There are so many layers of codes we have to navigate and frequently the fire officials dont know the zoning codes and vice you have to learn the codes and become your own advocate. It will save you time and money.

        Hope this helps. Good luck.


        • #5
          Thanks Brent - I knew things will be different based on each township, just gathering some info to kind of prepare ahead of time. I am pretty sure we were told we have "Use by right" and they also mentioned at the beginning they may consider us "A private park" zoning to make things easier - They however didn't explain why that would make things easier, but the original zoning guy is no longer there to ask and didn't find much information on line about that type of zoning.