MSU sets Citizen Planner seminar dates

BIG RAPIDS, Michigan – A premiere training program for local officials working in the area of planning, zoning, community and economic development will be held in Big Rapids.  Early registration is required.

Michigan State University Extension is offering its premiere Michigan Citizen Planner program April 9-30, 2013.  This will be Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Big Rapids City Department of Public Safety training room (except one class which will be held in the Big Rapids City Hall).

Of the participants in 2012 Citizen Planner programs 91% rated the instructors as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ and 94% of participants rated the level of knowledge after attending the sessions as ‘good’ to ‘excellent’.

“Provides such high-quality, proactive information; I can’t imagine getting anything better from any other source” said student about the course.  “Presenter was very nice, genuine and authentic” and “good material – great innovative possibilities” are other typical comments from those who have taken Citizen Planner.

Online registration is available at or by telephoning (269) 657-8213. Payment can be made by credit card, check, or invoiced for payment. The registration deadline is April 2, 2013.

The course fee is $350 per participant for the complete core program. Group discounts are available.  Cost is $290 per participant for groups for four to nine coming from the same organization.  It is $250 per participant for 10 or more. The fee covers registration, course materials and refreshments. Participants that complete all seven sessions will receive a certificate of completion and may continue on to become Master Citizen Planners.  A person can sign up for individual sessions also.

Scholarships for attending Citizen Planner may be available from a government’s liability insurance provider, such as the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, Michigan Township Participating Plan, and others.  The scholarships are offered because this training is viewed as an important strategy to avoid liability risk and associated costs to local taxpayers.  The training includes proper procedure for planning and zoning, and knowledge to avoid compromising people’s due process and private property rights, as well as much more.

Instructors for the training program include MSU Extension educators who specialize in land use planning, law and zoning.  The course includes multiple instructors so participants receive different perspectives.   The seven-class series includes:

Introduction to Planning and Zoning

Smart Growth and the New Economy, Conflict of Interest and Planning Resources

Legal Foundations of Planning and Zoning:

Cases, Statutes and other Planning Authority.

Roles and Responsibilities, Part I

Master Plan and Planning Process, Sub-Area Plans, and Working with the Public

Roles and Responsibilities, Part II:

Zoning, Site Plans and Zoning Board of Appeals Process

Plan Implementation and Development Controls

Subdividing Land, Zoning Controls and Non-Regulatory Techniques

Best Practices forInnovative Planning

and Zoning

Green Development, Form-Based Code, Traditional Neighborhood Design and Conservation Design

The Art of Community Planning

Participation, Effective Meetings and Managing Conflict

Mecosta and Osceola individuals helping plan and bringing this opportunity to the area are: Bruce Fredrick, Morton Township Planning Commission chair; Gladys Lenard, Zoning Administrator, Mecosta Township; Dan Massy, Osceola County Community Development Coordinator; Bill Stanek, Big Rapids Twp Supervisor; Michelle Stenger, Director, Mecosta County Building and Zoning Department; Mark Sweppenheiser and Stacey Stilson, of Neighborhood Services, City of Big Rapids.