Coordinating the right and left hands: MAP’s Planning and Zoning Essentials program

The planning and zoning functions of a community serve as the proverbial right and left hands of the community development program. They must work together in a coordinated, complementary fashion to be successful.

Effective planning and zoning takes coordination. Put differently, the right hand must know what the left hand is doing within a given community development program. Statutory requirements set up a framework for coordination and the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act details that in a county or township (city or village), one of the regular members of the zoning board of appeals shall (may) be a member of the planning commission [MCL 125.3601(4)]. However, planning and zoning coordination goes beyond the liaison role between the planning commission and the zoning board of appeals (ZBA) and is manifested in each group’s routine operations, decisions and communications.

 Planning and Zoning Essentials, a program of the Michigan Association of Planning (MAP) presented in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, is a training for local planning and zoning officials designed to cover these important functions.

MAP’s Planning and Zoning Essentials is a basic, four-hour training for anyone dealing with planning and zoning in a community. This program is ideal for introducing new planning commissioners and zoning board of appeals members to their roles and responsibilities, and is also great for more experienced officials looking to refresh their skills or build upon existing knowledge. The training is designed to cover the entire community planning and zoning program at a fundamental level so that participants fully understand basic roles and responsibilities and how the various pieces of a community’s planning and zoning functions fit together.

Roles and responsibilities, site-plan review, comprehensive planning, zoning ordinances, variances, how to determine practical difficulty, and standards for decision making are all presented in this comprehensive workshop.

Upcoming MAP Planning and Zoning Essentials workshops include Feb. 26 in Bessemer, Mich. The workshop goes from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at City Hall. The cost of the program is $55 per person and includes a light dinner and the Planning and Zoning Essentials guidebook - an 87-page resource filled with information to help you make better decisions. Instructors for the program include Brad Neumann, AICP - MSU Extension, and Pat Coleman, AICP - UP Engineers & Architects, Inc.

Register for the event.  Registration deadline is Feb. 21.

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