The Ferndale DDA regularly assesses and reassesses its plans for the district and examines what is working, what needs work and what has potential for future development. To see where the DDA has been  and where it plans to grow, please review the following documents.

DDA Development Plan 2007

DDA Development Plan 2012 – Original TIF Area

DDA Development Plan 2012 Executive Summary – Original TIF Area

DDA Development Plan 2012 – Expanded Boundary Area

Development Plan Appendix 2012


Before reading this section, we urge you to first review how to  Start A Business in Downtown Ferndale.

After receiving approval for your Zoning Determination Request, you can find any additional permits and applications relevant to doing business in Downtown Ferndale at the City of Ferndale Permit Center.  Available via the permit center are applications for building, mechanical and electrical permits, contractor registration, signage, filming, obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, local liquor licensing, rezoning, valet service and many more.

If you wish to change the exterior of your building/business, you will need to submit a Transit-Overlay District Pre-Application available online or in person at the DDA Offices. Review the New Downtown Ferndale Design-Based Ordinance Amendment prior to developing plans for your building and feel free to contact the Ferndale DDA regarding any questions you may have about the process or guidelines.

Signage is always key for businesses and standards do apply which can be found in the Sign Ordinance. Signs are typically administratively reviewed through the Appearance Review process and do require a permit from the City. Quickest rule of thumb:  signs cannot be larger than 40 sq.ft. or 10% of the building face excluding glass and doors, whichever is smallest. Also, window signage cannot exceed 20% of total glass space. Sign Permit application. If you are looking to use a Sandwich Board Sign, an annual permit is required and must meet the specs outlined.

Food handling and health inspections are handled by Oakland County. Fire Inspections and Occupancy Load are handled by the City of Ferndale Fire Department.

Ferndale DDA Resource Catalog

City of Ferndale Community Plans

Downtown Ferndale Market Review and Business Recruitment Analysis Presentation 2016

Downtown Ferndale Business Recruitment Summary Report 2016

Downtown Ferndale Residential, Office, and Retail Market Studies Executive Summary 2016

Downtown Ferndale Retail Market Analysis 2015

Downtown Ferndale 2013 Market Analysis – Full Report
Market Analysis Fact Sheet – Summary Overview
2006 Parking Study
– Section 1: Parking Study Overview
– Section 2: Analysis
– Section 3: Survey Results
– Section 4: Operational Recommendations
– Section 5: New Parking
– Section 6: Appendix

Parking Surplus & Demand Study 2009

Downtown Business Guide

Liquor Licenses
Ferndale currently has no Class C liquor licenses available, however, the State of Michigan is now allowing for licenses to be transferred Intra-County. Also available are Redevelopment Liquor Licenses within the DDA area only. There are specific requirements at the State and Local level in order to qualify for a Redevelopment License. Redevelopment licenses are purchased through the State and are not transferrable from location or business. You may research online for details on the approval process for either way you intend to pursue a license through the MLCC’s website. They also have all escrowed licenses online.

Whether you are looking to acquire a Redevelopment license or  transfer a Class C License from an Oakland County business, you may begin the process by:

  1. Contacting the MLCC (Michigan Liquor Control Commission) for the Department of Labor and Economic Growth, and filling out an application.You may begin the application process, but in most instances your final application is not complete without Local approval.
  2. Contact the Ferndale DDA Executive Director for more information at the City level.
  3. Send a letter of intent to the City of Ferndale City Council & the Ferndale DDA.
  4. Develop a Business Plan that will address the City of Ferndale Liquor License Ordinance for New and Transferring of On-Premise Licenses and the criteria set forth in the City’s Liquor License Policy Resolution on approving Intra-County Liquor License Tranfers. The City 2013 Ordinance does require that transfers still must follow the City’s policy and receive approval through City Council.
  5. Liquor License Review Commitee will then set a date for committee review with the applicant.
  6. When all documents are ready by applicant and Review Committee, a public hearing date will be set (a minimum of 30 days) to be heared at City Council.

Please also see this flowchart on obtaining a liquor license at the State level.


Business Licenses
Many occupations and businesses in Michigan require a license. For others, like foresters, registration is optional, but recommended. If you are not sure whether or not a license is required, you can contact the Michigan Jobs Commission. They maintain a list of professions and businesses requiring a license or registration from the State:

Michigan Jobs Commission
Victor Office Center, 4th Floor
201 North Washington Square
Lansing, MI 48913
Phone: 517/373-9808

The State also imposes a sales tax on merchandise sold in Michigan. You may be required to track, report, and pay this sales tax to the Michigan Department of Treasury. If you sell merchandise or rent tangible property, you will likely be required to obtain a Sales Tax License from the State of Michigan Department of Treasury. This license, which must be renewed annually, authorizes you to collect sales tax. In order to apply for a Sales License, you should complete form C-3400 and send it in with a $1.00 fee.


If your business will use any solvent or substance that could get into the air or water in the form of runoff or seepage, you may be required to get a permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and/or the Michigan Department of Consumer and Industry Services’ Bureau of Safety and Regulation MIOSHA Information Division.

It is important not to make assumptions about your obligations under federal, state, and local environmental laws. For example, if you run a car repair business, you have to make certain arrangements and obtain needed permits relating to the disposal of hazardous waste such as oils, fluids, and even old tires.

It is also a good idea when purchasing land or an existing structure to ascertain what your potential clean up costs and other environmental liabilities may be. The City of Ferndale may be able to help you trace the ownership of a piece of property, but it is a good idea to contact a licensed environmental professional to perform an environmental assessment of the business before you make a purchase or sign a lease agreement.

Ferndale is a Brownfield, and tax credits are available through the Ferndale BRA if clean-up is required of the property.

Some important contacts about environmental concerns are:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Region 5
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604-3507
Phone: 312/353-2000
FAX: 312/353-1155

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Environmental Assistance Center

P.O. Box 30457
Lansing, MI 48909-7957
Phone: 800/662-9278
Fax: 517/335-4729

Health and Safety Standards
Department of Consumer and Industry Services

P.O. Box 30015
Lansing, MI 48909

Brownfield Tax Abatements
Ferndale BRA