Huntington Woods & Lathrup Village Master Plans Underway

People move to and stay in a community for many reasons. Some come to an area for its prime location; some for its beautiful neighborhoods; and some come for its community feel. What attracts people to a community – and what keeps them there? How well does a community provide for the needs of its residents and businesses? What can the community do to continue to manage and guide development and redevelopment based on changes that happen inside as well as outside the community’s borders? The Planning Commissions in the cities of Huntington Woods and Lathrup Village are asking these questions as they update their Community Master Plans to reflect recent demographic and economic trends. Indeed, both communities have desirable locations in Oakland County, and both are known for their beautiful residential neighborhoods. And, both communities are known for being involved and engaged. Public input in the planning process is crucial to building consensus and buy-in from community stakeholders. Links to the online surveys are available for both communities on their project pages: Huntington Woods and LathrupVillage. The Planning Commission, with assistance from its planning consultants, Clearzoning, Inc., asks the communities to provide input via surveys that will contribute to building community consensus and strengthening the community’s sense of...

David Birchler honored by Michigan Association of Planning for 40 years of membership!

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...

Innovative Zoning Brings Jobs to Community

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...

Zoning Codes Need Health Check-Ups Too

Zoning check-ups can lead to a better way to zone 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 of 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...

The Supreme Court May Have Handed Real Estate Developers a Huge Win

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. Additional Resources http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/koontz-v-st-johns-river-water-management-district/?wpmp_switcher=desktop http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2013/06/supreme-court-just-handed-real-estate-developers-big-win/6010/   Clearzoning has joined Giffels...