At the Michigan Association of Planning annual conference in Kalamazoo, held in early October, David Birchler was recognized for 40 years of membership. Over the years, Dave has been an involved member of this statewide association, including serving as its treasurer and then president in the late 1980′s. Dave has received many project awards from the organization in the past and was also recognized as its “Outstanding Professional Planner” in 2004.
Congratulations, Dave, and here is to many more years of service!Read More
Governor Rick Snyder along with representatives from Pinnacle Foods celebrated the grand opening of the multi-million dollar, 5,000 sq. ft. expansion of the Imlay City Vlasic pickle plant. The plant and its related infrastructure in Imlay Township will be making pickles as well as packaging and distributing products. Today’s celebration marks an important occasion not only for Pinnacle, but also for the economic growth of the Imlay City and Township community. The expansion will result in 29 new jobs, bringing total full-time positions to 300, plus 700 additional seasonal jobs.
During his speech, Governor Snyder highlighted the importance of team work among local officials in assisting Pinnacle Foods with its expansion. The Governor remarked, “I want to compliment the local officials and the partnership that went on here. From the County, to the City, to the Township, to economic development organizations, you’re to be complimented. It’s a great success!”
Planning for this project has been in the works since August of 2012. Imlay Township worked closely with Pinnacle Foods, the Township’s largest employer, to ensure an expedited and smooth rezoning and site plan approval process for the expansion. A key related infrastructure area for the plant is located in the Township’s new, Enterprise Business District. According to David Birchler, CEO of Clearzoning, Inc. and the Township’s planning consultant for the past 35 years said, “Imlay Township created its new Enterprise Business district in order to support the growth of existing businesses as well as attracting new companies to the Imlay area. The innovative zoning district is designed to allow a broad mix of office, retail, and manufacturing uses, with similar location and space requirements, in an atmosphere that encourages collaboration. The built-in provisions for expedited site plan review and approval worked perfectly in helping Vlasic and Pinnacle Foods meet critical production deadlines.”Read More
People need health check-ups from time to time, and so do zoning codes. Just like you take time to talk with your doctor about your health and how things are working, it’s important to take the time to review zoning ordinances for outdated terms and definitions, identify inconsistencies or conflicting text, and consider how to address planning trends and demographic shifts.
Clearzoning staff recently completed a health check up for the City of Blacksburg, Virginia and found their code to generally be in good shape. Many definitions are current and reflect needs of today’s residents and business owners, including itinerant vendor, life care facility, and personal improvement services.
- District intent statements are descriptive in terms of the types of uses permitted and desired and suggest the form and amenities development should include.
- Provisions that encourage home occupations include standards that protect neighbors while still encouraging self-employed or start up businesses.
- Provisions for manufactured home developments use current language and consider mixing uses
- Many primarily residential districts allow some type of mix of uses that allows residents the opportunity to find basic goods/services close to home, which has the potential to reduce vehicular traffic within the City.
- Regulations provided in the Creek Valley Overlay and Floodplain Overlay district address impact f development on stormwater management and water quality.
- Parking provisions address many uses and are generally presented in a consistent manner; the recognition of mass transit’s impact on parking needs is important.
In general, we would recommend consolidating as many of the duplicative standards as possible to make the ordinance shorter and easier to understand and navigate. In addition, the use of graphics for definitions, district standards, and site standards would really enhance the overall usability of the Ordinance. Cross-referencing sections that relate to uses and standards will ensure that users understand all that is required as well as to help see the impacts of future ordinance changes.Read More
Case has potential impacts for local zoning and other permitting processes
The Supreme Court may have handed developers a huge win in a 5-4 decision released today (Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District).
The key issues were:
(1)Whether a land-use agency can be held liable for a taking when it refused to issue a land-use permit on the sole basis that the permit applicant did not agree to a permit condition. In this case, Koontz argued that the permit conditions, if applied, would violate the essential nexus and rough proportionality tests set out Nollan and Dolan cases and
(2) Whether the nexus and proportionality tests apply to a land-use exaction. In this case, the exaction took the form of a government demand that an applicant for a permit dedicate money, services or other type of personal property to a public use.
The court ruled 5-4 in favor of the property owner.
The planners at Clearzoning, Inc. have recently been tapped to assist the City of Wixom, MI with the preparation of an Economic Development Strategy. This study is funded, in part, with a US Economic Development Administration grant.
We have assembled a team that includes Brent Eastman of Identity PR of Bingham Farms, MI, branding and public relations specialists based in Oakland County, and Howard Kohn of The Chesapeake Group of Cadillac, MI and Baltimore, MD to partner on this project. Howard Kohn, president of The Chesapeake Group has over 40 years of experience in market analysis and economic development planning. The project has three main components:
- Understanding the City’s assets and creating strategies fill gaps in the market for industrial, retail, and research and development businesses;
- Creating an efficient land development review process within the City;
- Assisting the City in the development of its unique “brand voice”—an understanding of who the City is, what it has to offer, and how that message is best shared.
On May 15, Rod Arroyo met with several area businesses to give an overview presentation of the project. This summer, along with extensive research, our team will survey and interview local businesses and residents to learn more about the local workforce and the needs of local businesses. Strategies to strengthen the attractiveness of the workforce through education and specialized training will be developed. In addition, we will look for opportunities to facilitate collaborations between existing businesses and potential new businesses. We look forward to working with this community over the next several months.Read More
Attending the American Planning Association Annual Conference in Chicago April 13-17?
Stop by the Exhibit Hall and meet the staff at Clearzoning – and see a Clearzoning ordinance in action! Find us at Booth #533.
In addition, Clearzoning’s Rod Arroyo and David Birchler will be presenting ”The Little Suburb that Could” at a special event dinner on April 16 (6-8 p.m.). Rod and Dave will share the story of how, in the midst of Michigan’s severe recession, one city is looking for ways to position the community for future growth and improvement. Learn more about the positive steps taken by this small city over the past four years. Register here for this event.Read More
Make Your Roads Safer
The University of Michigan reports that a crash occurs on Michigan roadways about once every 2 minutes, on average. Some crashes are largely attributable to single obvious causes, such as drunk driving or “texting” on a cell phone. However, many crashes are affected by a combination of factors that might include:
- Unusual roadway design
- Traffic control feature(s) different than the driver expected
- Poor visibility due to darkness and/or weather
- An unforgiving roadside
The likelihood of crashes and/or severe injuries occurring can generally be reduced by improving the roadway, roadside, and/or traffic controls (i.e., pavement markings, signs, signals). Learn more about how communities can direct their limited safety improvement funds by creating a more cost-effective local safety program based on a comprehensive traffic crash study. March 2013 – Traffic Crash Studies