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SG-W:/ House Approve Joint Planning Commissions


More Information:	
Friday, July 18, 2003
Conan Smith, MEC
Brian Imus, PIRGIM


Environmentalists Applaud Key Land Use Legislation
Joint Planning Bill Helps Communities, Slows Sprawl 

LANSING-The State Legislature took a concrete step to curb sprawl and
encourage more regional solutions to land use problems yesterday by passing
a bill that provides local governments the power to create joint planning
commissions. According to the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), House
Bill 4284 is landmark legislation that will help communities protect
Michigan's fast-changing landscape from becoming overtaken by poorly planned

Michigan's more than 1500 individual units of government do not have the
legal ability to come together to address land use concerns of regional
significance. Joint planning is a voluntary tool local governments may use
in order to create legally binding plans that allow them to manage the
growth of their community while protecting the region's character and
economic base. 

"In the interest of Michigan's land and economic security, legislative
leaders like Rep. Chris Kolb have stepped up and provided local communities
the tools they need to take control of development," says Conan Smith, Land
Programs Director at the Michigan Environmental Council.  "This is really
good neighbor legislation. Planning across jurisdictional boundaries ensures
that a community's costly investments in road and sewer infrastructure,
permanent conversions of land resources, and transportation planning and
school placement compliment rather than contradict plans made by neighboring

Under current law, counties, townships, and cities are each required to use
different planning procedures, so working together means translating ideas
into three separate ordinances, each with unique language and regulations-a
discouragingly resource-intensive proposition. Passage of House Bill 4284
allows one planning commission covering multiple jurisdictions to work with
one set of rules.

"Planning regionally puts power back into the hands of local governments,
because business and developers can no longer pit local governments against
one another," says Brian Imus, of the Public Interest Research Group in
Michigan.  "The old way has created costly legal battles, annexations and
poor development choices. Joint planning commissions allow governments to
make fiscally sounds decisions and protect community character and

A copy of MEC's testimony on the bill is available at
http://www.mecprotects.org <http://www.mecprotects.org> 


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