Land Based Projects

A Path to Purchase, Permit and Design


The City of Detroit is currently working to improve the process for purchasing and permitting land based projects. A land based project uses land for urban agriculture, gardening, beautification and other productive uses, whether for profit or as a community based activity.

As part of this 2019 planning effort, the City is seeking input from land based project leaders and neighbors. The changes that result from this work will simplify this process moving forwards and help ensure land based projects are good neighbors in all Detroit neighborhoods.

Sign up to receive updates, join a focus group or participate in a community conversation:

The City Wants to Hear From You!

We are gathering input to help prioritize improvements to the land purchase to permit process and establish Good Neighbor Guidelines for land based projects.

Learn More About This Planning Effort

Resources to Help You Today


  1. Identify publicly owned land that is for sale
    • Please note that selecting property where your project is allowed By Right through the City’s zoning ordinance will save you time and reduce the fees associated with receiving your permits.
  2. Learn about requirements for urban agriculture that impact site selection in the City’s Zoning Ordinance:
  3. Whole Zoning Ordinance
  4. Summary of Urban Agriculture Requirements in the Zoning Ordinance:
  5. Key Definitions:
    • Compost (Ord. No. 10-13, § 1, 04-16-13)
      Relatively stable decomposed organic matter for use in agricultural and other growing practices, usually consisting of materials such as grass, leaves, yard waste, worms, and also including raw and undercooked kitchen food wastes, but specifically excluding bones, meat, fat, grease, oil, raw manure, and milk products
    • Contractor Yard (Ord. No. 10-13, § 1, 04-16-13)
      A yard used for the outdoor storage of a construction or landscape contractor’s vehicles, equipment, and materials, including plant materials and contained soil.
    • Farmers Market (Ord. No. 10-13, § 1, 04-16-13)
      A pre-designed non-municipally owned or operated area, with or without temporary structures, where vendors and individuals who have raised the vegetables or produce or have taken the same on consignment for retail sale, sell vegetables or produce, flowers, orchard products, locally-produced packaged food products, and/or animal agricultural products.
    • Farm Stand (Ord. No. 10-13, § 1, 04-16-13)
      A temporary structure, accessory to an urban garden or urban farm for the display and sale of vegetables or produce, flowers, orchard products, locally-produced packaged food products and similar non-animal agricultural products grown or produced on the general property of the urban garden or urban farm upon which the stand is located.
    • Tree Farm
      Any parcel of land used to raise or harvest more than ten (10) trees for wood products, Christmas trees, or for transplant, where forest products are sold on-site or transported to market. A tree farm as a principal use is considered an urban farm.
    • Urban Farm
      A zoning lot, as defined in this article, over one acre, used to grow and harvest food crops and/or non-food crops for personal or group use. An orchard or tree farm that is a principal use is considered an urban farm. An urban farm may be divided into plots for cultivation by one or more individuals and/or groups or may be cultivated by individuals and/or groups collectively. The products of an urban farm may or may not be for commercial purposes.
    • Urban Garden
      A zoning lot as defined in this article, up to one acre of land, used to grow and harvest food or non-food crops for personal or group use. The products of an urban garden may or may not be for commercial purposes.
  6. Purchase Land


  1. Combine your lots to reduce permitting fees
    Download the forms:

    The City is working to produce materials that clarify when lots can and cannot be combined. For example: Lots that are across the street from one another cannot be combined; Lots that are across an alleyway can only be combined sometimes (if the alleyway is out of use and can be “vacated”), and vacating an alleyway comes with an extra cost. Contact the Department of Public Works – City Engineering Division at (313) 224 - 3954 to ask about vacating an alleyway.

    The City is also looking into opportunities to streamline permitting for land based project leaders who own lots that cannot be combined.

  2. Return to the Assessor’s Office
  3. Complete your permit with the City

    The existing Building Permit form allows property owners to register their Change of Use, protecting land based projects’ rights to operate on their land. It shows the City that the particular land use your land based project falls under is allowed by the City’s zoning code, and that the way you are doing your project meets the City’s zoning requirements for the land you are on.

    Click here for a visual aide to the below written instructions.

  4. Download the change of use form
  5. The City is working to improve this form and make it more intuitive for the public. Below are the steps you can follow for now to complete you Building Permit and register your change of use with the City:
    • Complete the Identification Information on Page 2 – Property Owner / Homeowner and the Property Information on Page 1
    • Sign and complete the Homeowner Affidavit and Permit Application
    • Provide an estimated cost of construction
    • If you are registering your change of use for a Farm or Garden, check the change of use box on Page 1 in the “project Information” area and write a short description of your farm or garden
    • Bring this completed form with you to BSEED, located on the 4th floor of the Coleman Young Municipal Center, located at 2 Woodward Avenue.
    • If you already have a site plan or pictures of the improvements you will make, please bring copies with you to BSEED
    • If you are seeking a permit for a land land based project that is 1 acre in size or larger, please refer to the site plan requirements referenced here
  6. Visit:
  7. For help with your permit application and to save time by making an appointment please reach out to the Development Resource Center
    Call the DRC: (313)-224-2372

For more information please email [email protected]

Ongoing Care