BIG RAPIDS, Michigan \u2013 A premiere training program for local officials working in the area of planning, zoning, community and economic development will be held in Big Rapids.\u00a0 Early registration is required. Michigan State University Extension is offering its premiere Michigan Citizen Planner program April 9-30, 2013.\u00a0 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 \u2018very good\u2019 or \u2018excellent\u2019 and 94% of participants rated the level of knowledge after attending the sessions as \u2018good\u2019 to \u2018excellent\u2019. \u201cProvides such high-quality, proactive information; I can\u2019t imagine getting anything better from any other source\u201d said student about the course.\u00a0 \u201cPresenter was very nice, genuine and authentic\u201d and \u201cgood material \u2013 great innovative possibilities\u201d are other typical comments from those who have taken Citizen Planner. Online registration is available at http:\/\/events.anr.msu.edu\/CPMecosta\/ 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.\u00a0 Cost is $290 per participant for groups for four to nine coming from the same organization.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 A person can sign up for individual sessions also. Scholarships for attending Citizen Planner may be available from a government\u2019s liability insurance provider, such as the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, Michigan Township Participating Plan, and others.\u00a0 The scholarships are offered because this training is viewed as an important strategy to avoid liability risk and associated costs to local taxpayers.\u00a0 The training includes proper procedure for planning and zoning, and knowledge to avoid compromising people\u2019s 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.\u00a0 The course includes multiple instructors so participants receive different perspectives. \u00a0 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.