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Thread: Rural planning commissioner?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian graciela's avatar
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    Rural planning commissioner?

    I work as a planner in a different county than my county of residence. The county that I live in is fairly rural in character. The interstate runs across the southern portion and some outlet malls and fast food have popped up in that area. Otherwise, it is mostly occupied by large lot single family residential and heavy agriculture in the form of chicken houses or largish cattle operations. Recently, the area has begun to feel the squeeze of our lovely Capitol City stretching it's suburbs into the area. Developers have loved the neighboring counties to death and are ready to move into this one. We are ripe for the picking. A loophole filled PUD ordinance was recently put through and we are totally exposed to bad development. Unfortunately, the powers that be seem enchanted by the siren's call of developer's promises of increased tax base and "high quality" projects.

    There is definately a good ole' boy system in place. Recently there was an opening on the planning commission. A current member was reappointed. Another slot will come open some time this year. I have submitted a letter of interest and hope to become a member. The current planning commission is pathetic. If a project is remotely controversial, they refuse to make any sort of recommendation to the county commissioners. Kinda defeats the purpose of having a planning commission, huh?

    With all of that being said, I was wondering if any of you have ever served in a similar capacity? I realize that I will have many obstacles to overcome if I make it. I am female, under 30 and college educated. That can be a threat to a lot of people around here. Sometimes it can be disheartening to live in the rural south. Time to be a southern belle and charm my way in.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    May 2002
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    Quote Originally posted by graciela View post
    Time to be a southern belle and charm my way in.
    That's the way to do it. Act gracious and nice until you're on the Board, then turn into a fighter. They won't see you coming.

    This comes from a guy who is on two different types of Boards in the city he lives in.

    Even if you're a lone voice, and your PC refuses to take stands, make sure that what you personally state gets into the minutes so that maybe someone will notice that one of you seems to care. Your PC minutes should be in your Board packets, right?

    Good luck.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    montana
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    I work for the county and volunteer for the zoning board with the city. Not exactly your question- our city is pretty forward-thinking- but it is certainly fun to bring your professional expertise to a volunteer board in the place you live. I say go for it.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Michigan
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    I work for the City, but sit on the County Planning Commission. As we have no county zoning, the commission only serves to give recommendations to the township board regarding master plans and zoning ordinances. Having said that, we don't do much! Half the time the townships don't include us at all, we are not proactive in the least. I haven't been on that long of time, but it is quite fustrating. The County does not have a planning budget at all, and no planning staff. I've started to make suggestions, but guess who all the work would fall back on - me. So there is a fine line between trying to seek change and being the one to do all the work.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    I work for the City, but sit on the County Planning Commission. As we have no county zoning, the commission only serves to give recommendations to the township board regarding master plans and zoning ordinances. Having said that, we don't do much! Half the time the townships don't include us at all, we are not proactive in the least.
    Since the enabling statute requires townships to submit their rezoning and text amendments to the County after the Planning Commission has held the required public hearing, sounds like some of the townships in your county are playin' fast and loose with the law! Also, the Township Planning Act requires any master plan to be reviewed by the County prior to holding a public hearing.

    From MZEA:

    Sec. 307. (1) Following the (public) hearing required in section 306, a township shall submit for review and recommendation the proposed zoning ordinance, including any zoning maps, to the zoning commission of the county in which the township is situated if a county zoning commission has been appointed as provided under this act.
    SOME say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate
    To know that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    Robert Frost (1874–1963) (From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920.)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    Half the time the townships don't include us at all, we are not proactive in the least. I haven't been on that long of time, but it is quite fustrating.
    DecaturHawk is right. Looks like there's an opportunity to educate the townships in your county. Since the county has no planning staff, can the county's legal counsel draft a letter to all townships informing them of their obligation to send proper documents to the county? I would hate to think of all the zoning ordinance amendments that have been "adopted" that might now be invalidated because the county never had a chance for its review.

    Of course, the MZEA in the same section quoted by DH gives the county an out:

    (4) The legislative body of a county by resolution may waive its right to review township ordinances and amendments under this section.
    Has your county adopted a resoultion to waive this right?

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