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E-M:/ Engler Signs Cluster Zoning into Law!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                CONTACT:  Conan Smith

Friday, December 14, 2001                                                                       Land Programs Director

                                                                                                                                  (517) 487-9539




Governor Signs Cluster Zoning Package

Broad Coalition Leads to Land Use Reform Success



LANSING – Today Governor Engler signed into law three measures that help local governments and the development community cooperate to conserve land, protect natural resources and retain the character of rural communities.  Environmentalists herald the new laws as the first in a series of important tools for local planners.

“The ability to trade denser development for land conservation is a hallmark of Smart Growth, Michigan style,” said Conan Smith, Land Programs Director at the Michigan Environmental Council.  “These new laws help our local governments to respect private property rights and simultaneously protect the things they value about their communities.”

House Bills 4995, sponsored by state Representative Ruth Johnson (R-Holly), and House Bill 5028 sponsored by Representative Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) allow developers to increase density on a parcel of land in exchange for permanently protecting at least half of it under conservation easements.  House Bill 5029, sponsored by Representative Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor) allows a similar benefit in urban areas, where developers will preserve at least 20 percent of the land.

“Many small, sensitive habitats – such as unregulated wetlands -- will be preserved by these laws,” Smith said.  “We’re making the development community a partner in protecting Michigan’s natural features.”

The proposals won the support of both the environmental community and the Michigan Home Builders Association.  Smith noted that the bills alone will not solve the problems created by urban sprawl, but agreed that clustering development is a step in the right direction.

“We need to encourage more sustainable patterns of development,” he said.  “I hope the broad support these bills garnered has opened the door for other important tools for our communities, such as transfer of development rights and coordinated planning.”




Conan Smith

Land Programs Director

Michigan Environmental Council

119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A

Lansing, MI  48912

p. 517-487-9539

f.  517-487-9541








FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                             CONTACT:  Susan Shafer

December 14, 2001                                                    (517) 335-6397


Governor Engler Signs Three Land Use Bills


Governor John Engler today signed a land use bill package that creates a local zoning option for land development preserving open space while increasing capacity on less land.

“This bill package is an important first step in creating incentives to preserve open spaces while using less land to encourage family-friendly neighborhoods,” said Governor Engler.

Specifically, under this bill package, a landowner could increase the number of allowable residential units on a parcel of land in exchange for preserving a portion in perpetuity.

House Bill 4995, sponsored by State Representative Ruth Johnson (R - Holly), and House Bill 5028, sponsored by State representative Randy Richardville (R -  Monroe), creates an option for developers to increase density in exchange for preserving 50 percent of the land as open space.  If 50 percent were placed under a perpetual conservation easement, the developer could build up to three dwellings per acre, if a public sewer service were available.  In the absence of a sewer system, up to two dwellings per acre could be built. 


“We are determined to protect private property rights and keep taxes down,” said Rep. Johnson.  “These measures should create better growth patterns that will preserve open spaces and our precious natural resources for Michigan families.”  Johnson chairs the House Land Use and Environment Committee.

“Preserving our state’s natural features should be a principal part of any development plan,” added Rep. Richardville.  “The quiet surroundings of open spaces such as wood lots and wetlands can improve the quality of life for adults and provide a living classroom for young people.”

House Bill 5029, sponsored by Chris Kolb (D – Ann Arbor), limits the development in cities and villages to not more than 80 percent of the property to receive the increased density allotment.  This takes into consideration the limited space in more urban areas. 

The bill package requires local units of government to enact ordinances within 12 months of the effective date of the act to allow this open space preservation.  An exemption exists for municipalities that have exercised a similar ordinance as of Oct. 1, 2001.  In addition, the development of land under this bill package is subject to all other applicable ordinances, laws and rules.

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