Does your Planning Commission prepare its annual report?

The Michigan Planning Enabling Act requires Planning Commissions to prepare an annual report to their legislative body that is often overlooked or ignored, but is an important part of a properly functioning local government.

Being a member of your community’s Planning Commission can be very challenging and rewarding. Planning Commissions are charged with a variety of tasks including developing and amending master plans and zoning ordinances and reviewing various development requests. As a member of your Planning Commission, you play a critical role in the direction and development of your community. Additionally, there are many numerous other tasks your Planning Commission performs, including preparing an annual report to your legislative body.

The Michigan Planning Enabling Act requires all Planning Commissions to prepare an annual report to their legislative body whether it be a City/Village Council, Township Board or County Board of Commissioners. The Michigan Planning Enabling Act states:

A planning commission shall make an annual written report to the legislative body concerning its operations and the status of planning activities, including recommendations regarding actions by the legislative body related to planning and development. MCL 125.3819 Sec. 19 (2)

This report is usually written and approved by the Planning Commission then submitted to the legislative body at the end of each fiscal year. The report should contain a summary of key efforts, actions, decisions and recommendations of the Planning Commission. The report could also include an annual budget summary. It is also a good idea to provide an outline of future work for the upcoming year so the legislative body has a reasonable expectation of what to expect coming before them in the coming months.

Michigan law has a built-in provision that ensures a basic level of overlap between a legislative body and their Planning Commission. The Michigan Planning Enabling Act requires that one member of the Planning Commission be an ex officio member from the executive body. This requirement creates a direct line of communication between the two bodies. The ex officio member should be providing monthly Planning Commission reports to the legislative body. Additionally, the Zoning Administrator, a title only held if your community has zoning, should be providing monthly reports of his or her activities to the legislative body.

If both of these reports are being submitted monthly, then the legislative body should be well-informed on all planning and zoning activities in your community, and the Planning Commission’s annual report will simply serve as a concise summary of all Planning Commission operations and activities throughout the past year. If these monthly reports are not taking place, then the Planning Commission’s annual report will be even more important to the legislative body.

Regardless, monthly reports do not take the place of this annual report, although their contents can be the basis for putting together the annual report. This document should be made public and easily accessible for community members to read.

Michigan State University Extension’s Government & Public Policy Team has resources and materials that can assist your community with their annual report and other planning and zoning needs.

For additional information you may contact Ryan Coffey at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (231) 924-9677.

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