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Thread: Why would the Twp. Board derail the Master Plan at the end?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Why would the Twp. Board derail the Master Plan at the end?

    I don't get. The Township Board caved into public opposition at the very end and they basicly flushed $15,000 down the toilet. But I got paid.

    Here is the deal. I have this client (a Twp in SE Michigan) for whom I was developing their first ever land use plan. You know a "Land Use Plan" a vision for growth and devleopment in the community. SO, Going into the project the PC Secretary tells me that at no time can I mention the word ZONING, because the Twp. Board and the residents don't want zoning. OKay, so we hold 2 public workshops and mailed out a survey. The Township Board was involved during the whole process and each month we billed them for the work done in the previous month and they paid the bill.

    Now the draft plan is done and it is presented to the Planning Commission for their review and adoption, and they do just that. Now it is on it's way to the Township Board for their recommendation to distribute the plan to the neighboring units of govenrnment for their review and they derailed the whole project. They tabled the plan stateing that the Township was not ready for a Land Use Plan. The residents at the meeting kept calling it ZONING, ZONING THIS, ZONING THAT. Saying that the township was trying to control the residents land. They threatened that if the Twp Board passes the Plan that they would recall the Board.

    The Board, took no action and caved at the last minute. AWWE how frustrating. This is the first project/Client I have had where this has happened.

    Has this ever happened to you?
    Last edited by PlannerByDay; 19 Oct 2004 at 3:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Well, nothing similar has happened to me, but I would say don't worry too much about it.

    Put the work in your portfolio and move on to the next project .
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Welcome to the unsignaled intersection of irrational local politics and land use planning.

    What mendelman said.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    It doesn't sound like they misdirected that angst towards you. Pack up, move on. At least you got paid, right?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    As always when it comes to stupidity and the gov't I have lots of experience and two words for you "Political Expedience".

    Try these on for size

    1) New Plan from scratch. including associated background reports. Figure 1 person 12 months(researcher and assistant), 1 person 8 months (drafter), 1 person 2 months(tech), plus night meetings, plus expenses, plus advertising plus aggravation. Total cost to the taxpayers for nothing would be in the range of $100K. This plan is sitting in a desk someplace waiting for a signature.

    2) Try being the ninth person to work on a planning excercise that had been ongoing for almost 12 years. The planning area had so many background reports done on it that it had to be the most studied rural place ever. The worst thing is that there are still people working on it 6 years after I left so now it is up to almost 18 years in the process. Impossible to figure what that has cost. This place is home to my favourite politician quote of all time. A mad citizen got up and turned to the MLA and said " We did not put you there to do this to us".

    3) Another one, asked to rush it through then the community was almagamated with an adjacent municipality who scrapped the work we did. Cost around 40K.

    4) Current employer, council rejected it, that council got tossed next election we finally got the plan through- 5 years after starting, now to wait for the appeals.

    I can go on.....
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerByDay
    Now it is on it's way to the Township Board for their recommendation to distribute the plan to the neighboring units of govenrnment for their review and they derailed the whole project. They tabled the plan stateing that the Township was not ready for a Land Use Plan. The residents at the meeting kept calling it ZONING, ZONING THIS, ZONING THAT. Saying that the township was trying to control the residents land.
    Where I am at, we make sure representatives from the Twp Board are at our first project meetings with the Planning Commission. At that meeting, we discuss the process and ask if the Twp Board is, umm, well, on board. In Michigan, the Twp Board doesn't have to have the final say on the adoption of the new plan. However, if they excercised that right at the outset of the planning process, then yes, they will have final say. But you probably knew that already. Sounds like you have (had?) an interesting (to put it lightly) client there - what is the community crying about? If not for Township zoning, then there's the County zoning, right? Either way, the community is zoned. So what's everyone crying about? Sounds like there needs to be some education.

  7. #7
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    A guy I know basically renamed zoning in the comp plan. The people were stating that they did not want incompatible uses next to each other, but in the same breath would say no commie zoning. The City now has something called "Neighborhood Protection Districts" . Before him, the City had attempted to do a comp plan on about five occasions, but backed out each time.

    You got paid, so chalk it up as an experience and move on. They dug their graves, now they can lay in them!

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  8. #8

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    This isn't strange. Its the norm. Anybody who actually thinks about it realizes that a local land use plan would probably be a good thing. So those who think in the community initiate the process, they hire a consultant, and at the last minute, or nearly so, they run into the much larger part of the community that doesn't (and in many cases, can't) think.

    Beating this is almost impossible for consultants. I have proven over and over again that you CAN beat it about 60% of the time. But you CAN'T make a profit doing so because it takes hours and hours of work to get folks involved, get them thinking, build momentum, and undercut the opposition. In a lot of cases, meetings, even well-designed ones, won't do the whole job, so you have to use listening posts and similar techniques, and spend a lot of time one-on-one with the right people. Some places are easier than others, but it always takes months. The quickest I've made it happen was in a place where the opposition was strong, but not wild, and where the growth pressures were obvious and overwhelming. That one only took 14 months of meetings every other week, except right around Christmas. I cleared $1.92 an hour. They're still using the plan and the (constantly revised) regs, 14 years later.

    One important, but counterintuitive move is to start talking about land use regs from the beginning. People will not believe that a plan doesn't lead to that ugly Z word, so go with the flow. Have folks design their zoning/performance standards at the same time they write the plan policies. That way nothing is hidden and you can tackle the fears with iinformation and participation, rather than fueling speculation by constantly repeating that its not zoning. They all know that if a plan is too be taken seriously, there will be zoning. So fight the battle upfront. There is more on this in our book, The Planning for Results Guidebook, which I am told will soon be available through the APA book service, as well as through NACo.

    Having said all this, there are places where no one can succeed: the time is just not right. You may have found one of those. On the other hand two workshops and a survey (surveys are essentially useless in these circumstances, by the way) are never going to get it done.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I am wondering if 1) there is any state law mandating that each township have an adopted plan, as in Wisconsin, or 2) if the township received grant funds from the state to fund the plan.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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