Redevelopment Best Practices – 2015 MLGMA Session

  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. Today at the Winter Institute, we shared lessons about how an updated Zoning Ordinance and development review procedures can help a city achieve these goals.  By implementing best practices for redevelopment to provide clear, easy-to understand, and current zoning standards along with streamlined, well documented site plan policies, city managers can help ensure a smooth and predictable experience for developers as well as city staff, officials, and residents. Our session slideshow is available below along with a series of articles aimed at helping communities be “development...

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: Develop main sub-headings for website menu bar in consultation with client (For example: Home, Boards & Commissions, Community Profile, Departments, News, & Maps | Data)  Provide draft to municipality for review. Make one set of revisions, if necessary Upload and launch new website. Municipality to provide domain information and password or a new domain will be created Train municipal staff on how to update website and keep calendar current  Submit website to major search engines Provide free emails for municipal officials and staff using the username@domain convention. In addition to the above, CZ will maintain the website on a hosting site and provide phone assistance to local officials regarding keeping the site up to date. Additionally, our monthly maintenance agreement can include a monthly blog post for the News tab written by CZ staff.  Our staff will interview the one or two local officials or staff by phone once per month to determine latest news and then write a short news update (approximately 400 words) so the website is always is current with the latest information. This can...

Expert Traffic Engineering Services Based in Michigan

Traffic Engineering Consulting The staff of Clearzoning, Inc. provides expert traffic engineering services ranging from traffic-focused site plan review and traffic impact studies to traffic crash analysis and road safety improvements. Development Review When a new site or development plan is submitted to a community, Clearzoning reviews the plan to evaluate: – Parking circulation – Driveway access and spacing – Need for driveway improvements – Sight obstructions – Number of parking spaces – ADA parking requirements – Pedestrian circulation – Truck and emergency vehicle access – Transit implications. The community will be provided with a well-written review letter that can assist the applicant, staff, planning commissioners, and others. CZ staff will work to establish a fee schedule so that the cost of this service is passed on or shared with each applicant. This can be a no-cost service to the municipality. Traffic Crash and Safety Studies 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...

New Zoning Format Can Help Cities and Other Municipalities Enhance Customer Service and Promote Economic Development

New Zoning Format Can Help Cities and Other Municipalities Enhance Customer Service and Promote Economic Development Zoning codes have come under fire over the last 25 years for many reasons ranging from the resulting development patterns they create (mandating sprawl) to the confusing language (legalese) used in these documents.   This can lead to a host of negative impacts for a municipality.  Some impact day-to-day operations and others last for generations to come. Zoning codes can be enhanced by better graphics, formatting, and hyperlinking.  Municipalities are looking for better zoning formats, online zoning codes, fillable zoning forms, and interactive zoning maps. The use of graphics is one of the first places to start.  Regulations that are depicted graphically are generally easier to understand and more effective.  This is particularly true for business owners and citizens that are not familiar with common zoning and development terms.  It can also assist staff and Planning Commission members developing a better understanding of what the zoning text is intended to accomplish. The formatting of most zoning codes has not changed since the time they were first adopted.  The outline structure is often confusing, and users are forced to jump from section to section just to find basic information.  For example, the lists of permitted and special land uses are often found within the district pages.  The building setback, height, and other bulk and density requirements are often found in a separate schedule of regulations.  This basic information can be accessed at a glance by combining it on a single or two-page spread. Changes in technology also make it possible to get answers to...

Food Trucks – New Planning Presentations in October

Clearzoning President Rod Arroyo will be speaking twice in October on the topic of planning challenges and opportunities related to mobile food vending.  On October 3, he will address the North Carolina Planning Conference in Raleigh.  The following Thursday, October 9, Rod will be speaking at the Grand Hotel as part of the Michigan Chapter of APA’s annual conference. For more information, Rod Arroyo and Jill Bahm authored a Zoning Practice issue on this topic for the American Planning Association (September 2013 – Vol. 30, No.9).  A summary of the presentation is provided via the links below: Food Truck Handout from Clearzoning Powerpoint Presentation – Food Trucks...