Resources & Research


Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of governance is the need to balance the various, often competing, interests of property owners and residents—and still assure the physical and fiscal stability of the community. Planning and zoning are the tools available to local decision-makers to balance the interests of private property rights against the need to protect the public interest.

In the midst of these sometimes competing interests and views are the local authorities for planning and zoning; the zoning administrator, the planning commission, the zoning board of appeals, and the city or village council. Dealing with each of these conflicting perspectives is simply not possible, and the intent of planning is to avoid conflicts that arise. Instead, zoning follows some basic principles and procedures designed to treat each person, property, and point of view in a fair and consistent manner.

Michigan Planning Enabling Act (PA 33 of 2008)

Michigan Zoning Enabling Act (PA 110 of 2006)

Reed v Town of Gilbert (U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding signs)

Sign Regulation Turned Upside Down, The Review, January/February, 2016

Sign of the Times, Michigan Municipal League Capital Conference PowerPoint, March 2016

League Publications

Zoning: Basic QuestionsFact Sheet

Zoning: Nonconforming Buildings and UsesFact Sheet

Planning & ZoningHandbook for Municipal Officials

Planning Commissioners Handbook This book was written to help new planning commissioners understand their roles and responsibilities. Topics include: tools for planning commissioners; preparing for meetings; how knowledge of the zoning ordinance and applying ordinance standards will help you make decisions that will stick; and, what the future holds for planning commissioners.

Zoning Board of Appeals Handbook This handbook was written to help new zoning board of appeals members understand the scope of their role and responsibilities. Topics  include: the role of the ZBA as a whole and as individual members; an explanation of the zoning enabling act; the ZBA’s relationship to other municipal bodies and individuals; how to identify and handle conflicts of interest; how to interpret a zoning ordinance; types of variances; preparing for and conducting meetings; and, guidelines for making tough decisions.

Restoring Michigan Communities Building by Building (PDF) – A how-to guide that will assist you in understanding effective methods for battling blight and related issues and equip you to restore and revitalize your community.

Sample public notice ordinance

Capital Improvement Plans

Form-based Codes

Complete Streets

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