Charlevoix County Planners to learn about hot planning topics

Planning officials in Charlevoix County will have the opportunity get up-to-date information on water quality, recreation and critical issues during an October 30 workshop.

Local elected officials, planning commission and zoning board of appeals members will gather in Charlevoix on Thursday, October 30, 2014 to learn about current trends and hot topics affecting Northern Michigan communities.

The event will begin with a discussion of important trends that planning officials should know about. One of the most notable changes in this part of the state is the aging population – Baby Boomers are retiring in large numbers and taking advantage of Northern Michigan’s recreation opportunities and great quality of life. As a result, housing demand is moving more to smaller residences closer to towns and cities.

Economic development experts will also update the group about the state of the economy and local trends in manufacturing, tourism and employment.

 Other sessions during the workshop include:

  • Placemaking: the newest trend in planning and zoning. Creating quality urban places where people want to be, and perhaps move to, is emerging as an important economic development tool in Michigan. Northern Michigan’s small towns in proximity to great natural resources makes the region ripe for this approach.
  • What to do with contentious ZBA issues. Contentious issues can arise with many planning decisions, perhaps more with zoning variances than most others. ZBA members often struggle to uphold high standards for granting variances, while providing justice to both the applicant and surrounding property owners.
  • The Lake Charlevoix shoreline zoning project. This grant-funded effort is helping compile, summarize, create a website and make recommendations regarding shoreline zoning standards in the seven jurisdictions bordering Lake Charlevoix. These products will help the three cities and five townships increase coordination and consistency of their regulations.
  • Parcel splits and the Land Division Act. The process for reviewing and approving land divisions, and the County Register of Deeds role in recording splits is sometimes confusing for both zoning administrators and landowners, often resulting in a “splitting” headache.
  • The Charlevoix County Recreation Plan. The County Parks Committee is required to submit an updated County Recreation Plan every five years in order to maintain eligibility for some state recreation grants. During this session, the Parks Committee will gather input from planning officials as part of the process to develop the 2015 plan update.
  • Can local governments regulate oil and gas development? Few issues are more controversial in Michigan than the potential for expanded oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing. Township and county authority to regulate these activities is greatly limited by the Zoning Enabling Act and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. Local officials often struggle to address local resident concerns given their restricted authority.

The workshop will be held at the Charlevoix Public Library, 5 – 9 p.m. This event is sponsored by Michigan State University Extension and is partially funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Master Citizen Planners are eligible to receive four Master Citizen Planner credits.

Although the topics are focused on Charlevoix County planning, zoning and water quality issues, the event is open to all. For more information and to register, visit the Charlevoix County Planners Forum registration site.

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