There’s still time to comply with the Michigan Planning Enabling Act

Local governments with established planning commissions were required to make many changes with the passage of the Michigan Planning Enabling Act in 2008 – one of which is the adoption of a new planning commission ordinance.

In Michigan, local governments are not required to plan and zone for uses of land. Instead, the State of Michigan “enables,” or grants the ability, to local units of government to implement planning and zoning. For communities that choose to implement planning and zoning, the Michigan Planning Enabling Act (MPEA) (Public Act 33 of 2008, as amended) prescribes the planning procedures that must be followed and the duties and powers for local government planning commissions. When adopted in 2008, the MPEA prescribed that, by July 1, 2011:

  • All resolutions creating a planning commission would have to be replaced with a new ordinance (for townships with planning commissions organized under the repealed Township Planning Act, PA 168 of 1959); and
  • Nearly all ordinances creating a planning commission would have to be amended or replaced with a new ordinance (for cities, villages and townships with planning commissions organized under the repealed Municipal Planning Act, PA 285 of 1931 and counties organized under the repealed County Planning Act, PA 282 of 1945).

Of course, the date of July 1, 2011 is history. If your community has not yet made the necessary changes to amend or adopt an ordinance to (re)create your planning commission, chances are your planning commission is not “history” and is still maintaining a master plan and reviewing rezoning requests (among a number of other statutorily required tasks). However, if your community has not yet amended or adopted a planning commission ordinance in compliance with the MPEA, every decision your planning commission makes could be challenged in court as being arbitrary and capricious! What’s more, your community’s entire master plan and zoning ordinance could be deemed invalid and thrown out by a judge – all it would take is a landowner who is aggrieved by a planning commission decision to challenge your community in the court of law.

Don’t fret; MSU Extension is here to help! If your community still needs to amend or adopt a new planning commission ordinance, you are encouraged to review MSU Extension’sLand Use Series: “Checklist #1A: To create a planning commission or amend an existing planning commission ordinance.” This resource will guide your community through a step-by-step process for “recreating” a planning commission or creating a brand new planning commission.

Furthermore, MSU Extension offers a sample planning commission ordinance for your community to utilize and tailor to its needs and characteristics (see the MSU Extension Land use Series: “Sample #1B: Ordinance to Create a Planning Commission.”)

It is very important to note that the simple step of amending or adopting a new planning commission ordinance is just one of the many statutory changes made to planning and zoning process and powers in Michigan over the last several years. If the information in this article is news to you, we highly encourage you and your fellow planning commissioners to carefully review the MPEA and the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act (PA 110 of 2006, as amended).

Also, explore many other MSU Extension planning and zoning resources at Schindler’s Land Use webpage.

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