Clearzoning, Inc. Welcomes New Staff Members

Clearzoning, Inc. is pleased to announce the addition of two new staff members to the Clearzoning Team. Margaret (Mardy) Stirling joins the firm as a Senior Planner, with extensive experience at the local government level. Mardy is the former Deputy Director of Planning for the City of Royal Oak (Oakland County, Michigan) and the former Planning Director for Hartland Township in Livingston County, Michigan.  She has a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from Michigan State University. Joseph (Joe) Tangari joins Clearzoning as an Associate Planner.  Joe previously worked as a planner for the City of Hazel Park (Oakland County, Michigan) and as a research associate for Wayne State University, where he conducted a baseline assessment of the impact of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Redevelopment Ready Communities Program. He has a Master of Urban Planning degree from Wayne State University. We welcome Mardy and Joe to our team!  ...

US Economic Development Administration Approves City of Wixom Plan

The US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, recently approved the City of Wixom’s 2014 Economic Development Strategy developed with assistance from a team of planning, branding, and economic development consultants. This team, led by Lathrup Village-based Clearzoning, Inc., presented the final plan to City Council in June 2014. The plan was designed to create a broad framework for attracting and retaining businesses and building upon the existing assets of the City. At the council meeting, City Manager Tony Nowicki, summarized the economic development project as having three main components: 1) an assessment of the City’s assets and strategies to help fill gaps in the market for industrial, retail, and research and development businesses; 2) a guide to an efficient land development review process within the City; and 3) the development of the City’s unique “brand voice”—an understanding of who the City is, what it has to offer, and how that message is best shared.  Strategies to strengthen the attractiveness of the workforce through education and specialized training are also included. In addition, the project team shared opportunities to facilitate collaborations between existing businesses and potential new businesses. Howard Kohn, president of The Chesapeake Group, part of the project team, summarized opportunities identified through this process, including the potential for five million or more square feet of “industrial” space in the next ten years. He noted that “Some will be traditional manufacturing and some will be “new” office/industrial manufacturing.” Site Specific Opportunities were discussed. The strategy acknowledges the need for additional training in certain targeted areas (e.g., software testing, IT training, robotics, and health care). Rod Arroyo, president of...

Fairmont, West Virginia Ready to Streamline Zoning Code

Clearzoning is pleased to be working with the city of Fairmont, West Virginia on a project to transform their zoning code with a new layout, graphics, and organization. This update will result in an ordinance that is available online and in paper format. The new code will be particularly useful in its electronic format, where hyperlinks between sections will help users better understand how zoning regulations impact new development and redevelopment. This new code will allow users to get the answers to basic zoning questions any time of the day or night, saving time for the user as well as for City staff. Additional information on this project is available from the City of Fairmont, and from the Times West Virginian, in an article published on June 25,...

Watertown Township in Clinton County, Michigan Adopts New Zoning Code Based on Clearzoning Format

Watertown Township’s Zoning Ordinance Has Improved Format Using Clearzoning We are pleased to announce that Watertown Township in Clinton County, Michigan is our newest Clearzoning community. Watertown is the first municipality in Clinton Township to enhance its zoning code by adding the online functionality, new organization, and graphic enhancements from Clearzoning....

Planning Trends for 2014 – What Trends are Impacting Community Planning and Real Estate?

Sessions at the 2014 National Planning Conference in Atlanta and other recent research have shed light on important planning trends emerging in our new post-recession economy. The following highlights some key findings: Aging Population The population within the 7-county Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) region is currently about 4.71 million people (December 2013). Between 2010 and 2040, this population is expected to grow by a total of 8 % (4.70 to 4.74 million people). Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) The senior population (65+) in the SEMCOG region is expected to grow by 85 % between 2010 and 2040. The youth population (under 18 years) is expected to decline by 13.8 % during this same period. SEMCOG Low Birth Rate The U.S. fertility rate in 2012 of 63.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15-44 years. This is the lowest birth rate since the government started tracking this statistic in 1909 (when the birth rate was 127 per 1,000). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Shifting Housing Preferences Two demographic cohorts are driving the transformation of residential and non-residential development: 1) aging baby boomers – born 1946-1964 – now in their 50s and 60s and pursuing empty-nester lifestyles and 2) young echo-boomers – born 1977 to 1995 – now in their 20s and early 30s, also known as Gen Y or Millennials. They want to live in high-density, urban environments, not suburbs. They are tech-savvy and socially-interconnected – they don’t find suburban office developments attractive places to work. James Hughes, Rutgers University By 2040, 40 % of the demand for new housing will be for attached and multiple-family units...