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SG-W:/ Land Use Moves to Governor's Desk

Thursday, November 13, 2003
Conan Smith, MEC
Brian Imus, PIRGIM 

Key Land Use Legislation Moves to Governor's Desk
Joint Planning Empowers Communities, Slows Sprawl 

LANSING-The state Senate moved key legislation today to curb sprawl and
encourage more regional solutions to land use problems.  The bill, which now
moves to Governor Granholm's desk for expected approval, provides local
governments the power to create joint planning commissions. According to the
Michigan Environmental Council, who helped draft the legislation, House Bill
4284 provides an important tool for communities working to protect
Michigan's unique landscape from fast-paced, haphazard development.  Joint
Planning was among the 150 recommendations of the bipartisan Michigan Land
Use Leadership Council, and was recently cited by Granholm as one of her
highest priorities for land use reform.

Michigan's more than 1500 individual units of government with planning
authority currently do not have the legal ability to work 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 to manage the growth of their overall community while protecting the
region's character and economic base. 

"Planning across jurisdictional boundaries simply makes good economic and
environmental sense," says Conan Smith, Land Programs Director at the
Michigan Environmental Council. "It ensures that our communities make smart
investments in road and sewer infrastructure and valuable land resources,
and that transportation planning and school placement decisions compliment
rather than contradict the plans made by neighboring governments.
Legislative leaders like Rep. Chris Kolb have stepped up and provided local
communities the tools they need to take control of development." 

Under current law, counties, townships and cities are each required to work
under different planning procedures and coordinating plans would require
translating their intentions into three separate plans, each with unique
language and regulations-an unnecessary and wasteful chore. Passage of House
Bill 4284 allows one planning commission to work with multiple jurisdictions
on one set of zoning and planning guidelines.

"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 www.mecprotects.org
<http://www.mecprotects.org>  <http://www.mecprotects.org
<http://www.mecprotects.org> >


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