Open House Reveals Differing Perspectives

Residents at Planning Study Open House

Residents at Planning Study Open House

At the meeting, it became clear that we were approaching the question over the development of the subject property from different angles. On the one hand, as planners we understood that the vacant property would be developed eventually. On the other hand, residents attending the meeting wondered why the City needed to do anything with the property, assuming it was public land. So it was across that span that our public open house needed to bridge to get meaningful responses to the question: how should this 21-acre parcel be developed?

Clearzoning, Inc. facilitated the open house on behalf of the City of Novi, who was recently presented with a proposal from a property owner to amend a consent judgment on an undeveloped parcel that currently allows up to 170,000 sq ft of commercial development.  Our challenge was to ask for public input on the permitted development, current demographics, and recently completed market assessment – without dredging up bad feelings about past litigation involving the property.

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April Newsletter – Websites and Social Media

April 2015 Clearzoning Planning Brief

April 2015 Clearzoning Planning Brief

Economic development, government transparency, efficient delivery of services, and excellent customer service are key objectives for many governments. Websites and social media play an important role in achieving those objectives. While many small cities, townships, and villages have a web presence, many of their websites are not visually appealing and are not kept up-to-date.  Photographs, illustrations, full-color maps, and clear and connected formatting make websites attractive and user-friendly. Effective use of websites and social media presents information in a way that is understood by residents, business owners, officials, and the development community.

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Google is Penalizing Websites That Are Not Mobile Friendly

Google recently announced that it will prioritize results from Google searches in order of those that are “mobile friendly.”  Why is this important?  Many citizens and business owners “Google” their local government’s website rather than memorize the website address (URL). What can local governments do to respond?  Check your site using Google’s free tool. If your site is not mobile friendly, contact your current webmaster to determine what is necessary to improve the site to resolve these issues. Alternatively, consider a new, more user-friendly website that works just a well on a desktop as a mobile device.

Clearzoning, Inc. is now providing website design and development services. We have taken concepts we developed with our Clearzoning product and applied them to website design to assist local governments with offering a user-friendly and informative website experience.  Please visit for more information on website design services.  Additionally, our April 2015 newsletter explores website and social media issues that are important to local governments, including townships, cities, and villages.


April 2015 - Websites and Social Media_Page_1
Website Design for Local Government Service Profile - Michigan


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The Planning Commissioner’s Guide to Zoning Ordinance Amendments

Planning Commissioner's Guide to Zoning Amendment - educational resource

Michigan Planner article

The Winter 2015 issue of Michigan Planner features the article “The Planning Commissioner’s Guide to Zoning Ordinance Amendments,” written by Clearzoning’s Rod Arroyo and Joe Tangari. The article provides insight into best practices that municipal governments can use improve the process of keep a local zoning code up-to-date and relevant in terms of reflecting local character and trends.

One of the tools mentioned is the use of a zoning ordinance health assessment. This practice involves conducting a review of a community’s existing zoning code to 1) compare its effectiveness in implementing master plan goals, 2) identify compliance with recent changes in state or federal legislation, 3) review the code in light of recent zoning board of appeals cases, 4) identify changes to reflect the evolution of planning and zoning best practices, and much more.

Click on the graphic in the upper right to download a pdf copy of the full article.

To learn more about the Clearzoning format – which transforms local zoning codes into user-friendly, digital documents – visit our Clearzoning service page.


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Placemaking as Economic Development Tool

Clearzoning, Inc. recently assisted the City of Clawson, Michigan, with a Downtown Master Plan that included several placemaking strategies. The illustration above offers a concept for the transformation of a parking lot and adjacent buildings in an underutilized block adjacent to the main downtown intersection. The resulting plaza could be a welcoming place to gather informally or for community events.

How did we do it? We envisioned these improvements:

  • Renovate the buildings flanking the paved parking area
  • Transform the parking area with landscaping, street furniture, and pedestrian-oriented lighting.
  • Add landscape screening and low masonry wall to help fill in the “dead space” between the existing buildings (seen in the top photo).
  • Create a pedestrian connection that encourages shopping throughout downtown.

What is Placemaking?

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Redevelopment Best Practices – 2015 MLGMA Session


Clearzoning's Jill Bahm shares redevelopment ready practices with Michigan city managers.

Clearzoning’s Jill Bahm shares redevelopment ready practices with Michigan city managers.

Clearzoning is pleased to have been invited to speak at the 2015 Winter Summit for the Michigan Local Government Management Association (MLGMA). This is a great organization dedicated to the professional development of local government administrators. To paraphrase Pete Auger, the president of MLGMA (and the City of Novi, Michigan’s manager), city managers are often the key “behind the scenes” individuals who keep local government moving.

At Clearzoning, we want to help Pete and other city managers keep local government moving – in a forward direction. Today’s city managers can use planning, zoning, and technology tools to encourage quality economic development, manage limited financial and human resources, ensure fair and transparent decision making, and provide excellent customer service.

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Website Design Services

Clearzoning, Inc. is now offering affordable website development services for local governments.

For years, Clearzoning, Inc. has been creating new websites and web pages for planning projects. During this time, our staff has observed that many small cities, townships, and villages may have a web presence, but many of their websites are not visually appealing and are not kept up-to-date. Clearzoning now uses its expertise in design and information services to take local government websites to a new level at an affordable price. The following describes our basic website development service:

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