Community Development

Karl Laub

Community Development Department

10600 West Jefferson Ave
River Rouge, MI 48218
Phone: (313) 842-4203 ext 224

Hour of Operation
Monday - Friday
8:00 am to 4:00 pm

Community Development Mission

Welcome to the Department of Community Development. Our Department works with all community stakeholders to improve River Rouge’s quality of life and is the primary contact and liaison for the City’s Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals. Our department is also responsible for Community Development Block Grant administration.

Application Review

The Community Development Department is responsible for reviewing site plans, special land use, planned unit development (PUD), zoning variances, and re-zoning applications. For assistance with these processes, we recommend reviewing the River Rouge Development Handbook – Your guide to buying and developing property, starting a business, and investing in River Rouge.

Please see the following forms:

Pre-Application Meetings

Pre-application meetings are available to every applicant for free! These meetings are usually over the phone or via Zoom, and give applicant a chance to meet with the Director, Planner, Engineer, and any other city staff before they submit. The purpose of these meetings is to offer a chance for an early informal review of proposed projects and help avoid costly mistakes or delays later in the process. Conceptual site plan review meetings with the Planning Commission are also available upon request. To request a meeting, please call or email Karl Laub, Community Development Director.

Fees & Submission

All applications must be submitted in print and digital format to the Community Development Department (please check your application packet for instructions on the number and size for print copies). The City of River Rouge will accept check payments only. Please make all checks payable to the “City of River Rouge,” and submit the required fee alongside your application. If you are required to establish an escrow for your project, please provide a separate check for the escrow.


The Zoning Ordinance is a municipal law that governs land use, property development, and zoning districts within the City of River Rouge. The Planning and Zoning Administrator aids those wishing to discuss the City’s Zoning Ordinance.

Master Planning

The City Master Plan is a guide for future land use, development, transportation, zoning, housing, public facilities, and services throughout the City of River Rouge. The Master Plan works hand-in-hand with the City’s Zoning Ordinance and is used to evaluate development proposals, City projects, and policies to ensure that the City is making progress toward the future envisioned by residents and City stakeholders.

Other Plans

In addition to the Master Plan, the following plans help guide the City’s day-to-day decisions:

Development Review Bodies

There are 3 important development review bodies in River Rouge: Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), and City Council. In River Rouge, the Planning Commission is responsible for approving site plans and reviewing special land uses, rezonings, conditional rezonings, zoning ordinance text changes, and planned unit development. The City Council is responsible for approving special land uses, rezonings, conditional rezonings, zoning ordinance text changes, and planned unit development. The Zoning Board of Appeals is responsible for approving variances and due process appeals. If you are looking for applications, please refer to the section titled "Application Review" on the top of this page.

Submission Deadlines: For all submissions that require a Planning Commission or ZBA review, please submit no less than 3 weeks before your desired meeting date. Your application may be placed on a later meeting if your desired date is too soon or the agenda is full, and you will be informed if your date is changed.


Please see our River Rouge Development Handbook for answers to any frequently asked questions or contact us. Information on small business assistance and incentives are also available in the Handbook.

To apply for a building permit, visit the Building Department homepage for Forms and Permits< or stop by the Building Department at City Hall.