Upcoming Virtual Training Opportunities for Local Officials

June 12, 2020

Current Issues Affecting Michigan Local Governments Webinar Series

Elections and COVID-19, featuring Ingham County Clerk, Barb Byrum.

June 16 at 1:30pm. Registration for this FREE webinar is available at: https://events.anr.msu.edu/ElectionsCovid19/

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on new challenges and considerations related to how to conduct elections, especially as Michigan prepares for the August 4 primary election. With an increased number of people expected to vote absentee and concerns over how to conduct elections safely to minimize the spread of COVID-19, this webinar will help local governments consider how to prepare for upcoming elections and assure residents that voting will be safe and secure. Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum will present on how her office is preparing for the August and November elections and answer questions about how other local governments can be adequately prepared.


Remote Work: Making It Work in Local Government, featuring Ottawa County Administrator Al Vanderberg.

June 19 at 1:00 pm. Registration for this FREE webinar is available at: https://events.anr.msu.edu/remotelocalgov/

The COVID-19 pandemic forced local government into a radical shift in operations, including a significant increase in remote work. As facilities re-open at reduced capacity, remote work will be a necessity for many for the foreseeable future. This can be a challenge for many organizations and finding ways to adapt services is essential to fulfilling local government’s role. Ottawa County Administrator Al Vanderberg will share how Ottawa County adapted and kept up productivity in a rapidly changing environment, and ideas for building remote work capacity going forward.

The Power of Participation – Register by July 14 at: https://events.anr.msu.edu/PublicParticipation

According to recent studies, many local government leaders say they believe residents should play a more active role in local government decision-making than they currently do. These same officials report declining levels of engagement from their residents. Local governments want resident input to inform key decisions but are frequently unable to get significant engagement. So, the question is whether to accept low levels of engagement, and the problems that come along with that or focus on how best to engage the public in a way that works for both local governments AND residents.

The MSU Extension Power of Participation summer webinar series is a 4-part series that is designed to help local governments enhance public participation efforts. This series will guide them through developing a Participation Plan including stakeholder analysis, Open Meetings Act requirements, and strategies for creative engagement.

The series takes place July 14, 16, 21 and 23. All webinars run 10 – 11:30am

Citizen Planner Summer Series via Zoom

The flagship MSU Extension Citizen Planner Program is offering two [summer school] opportunities:

·       Summer Series I – Tuesday evenings 6-9pm on: June 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21 and 28 – Register at: https://events.anr.msu.edu/CPSummerI

·       Summer Series II – Wednesday afternoons 2-5pm on: July 29, August 5, 12, 19, 26 and September 2 – Register at: https://events.anr.msu.edu/CPSummerII

This is the Citizen Planner classroom program simply offered in a video conference (i.e. live webinar) format consistent with physical distancing policies. Participants will need an internet connection, computer or mobile device, and speakers/headset or phone for audio. Participant materials will be mailed. This limited time offer is available at a reduced price of $225 per person (group rate of $195 per person for 4 or more from the same municipality).

About the Citizen Planner Program

Citizen Planner is a six-week course for local government land use decision-makers – planning commissioners, zoning administrators, elected officials, zoning board of appeals members, and more. Each three-hour session includes lectures and hands-on learning exercises that focus on the fundamental roles, responsibilities, and best practices for planning and zoning in Michigan.

Millions of dollars are spent each year by Michigan local governments and insurance companies defending against lawsuits or paying damages as the result of poor land use decisions. The Citizen Planner Program was developed with this in mind and many insurance providers reimburse local governments for completing the course. Topics include:

  1. Understanding the Planning and Zoning Context: Learn the legal sources and limitations of planning and zoning authority and explore your understanding of ethical decision-making.
  2. Planning for the Future of Your Community: Recognize the function and importance of a master plan, know the process for developing one and its relationship to zoning.
  3. Implementing the Plan with Zoning: Discover the importance of zoning, learn how zoning is administered and gain confidence in your zoning reviews, including site plans.
  4. Making Zoning Decisions: Learn how to adopt and amend a zoning ordinance, understand the role of the zoning board of appeals and obtain skills in basic property development methods.
  5. Using Innovative Planning and Zoning: Strategize with placemaking and design-based solutions for local and regional success in the New Economy.
  6. Successfully Fulfilling Your Role: Strengthen your ethical decision-making skills, apply standards to your decision-making and know when to ask for help.

Conducting Land Division Reviews: The Splitting Headache Continues – NOW OFFERED ONLINE – September 28; October 22

This program is a technical training for persons responsible for reviewing land divisions, as required by the Michigan Land Division Act, PA 288 of 1967, as amended being MCL 560.101 et seq. (formerly known as the Subdivision Control Act). That person is usually the local government assessor, but may instead be the zoning administrator.

The program will review the parts of the Land Division Act pertaining to land division, including key definitions and other important provisions, teach required steps and best practices when conducting land division reviews, and highlight enforcement strategies for an effective local government operation. It will focus on participants knowing the statutory and case law limits of what the review is for.

We have decided to covert our 2020 trainings, originally planned in Gaylord, St. Johns, and Ann Arbor, to two different live Zoom-based offerings, September 28 and October 22. Both trainings will be four (4) hours [likely 1-5pm] offering assessors 4 hours of continuing education through the State Tax Commission.

2020 Master Citizen Planner Live Webinar Series – Register for one or all at: https://events.anr.msu.edu/MCPWebinar2020

The Master Citizen Planner (MCP) Webinar Series is designed to offer participants the latest updates and information on current topics. Using Zoom Webinar, MSU Extension educators will provide an overview of topics of interest to planning and zoning officials. Webinars take place from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Each session is available individually or participants can register for all six at once. All webinars will be recorded and sent to registrants.

Remaining 2020 Topics include:

·       Building Trust and Making Better Decisions, June 25 – As Land Use decision makers, you have the opportunity to shape your community and plan for a brighter future for all residents. In this webinar, we will discuss how to recognize bias to reduce disparities and limit liability for local governments. This presentation will go beyond the basics to include strategies to authentically connect with community members and build trust.

·       The Local Land Division Ordinance: Should your local unit have one? July 16 – Dividing property into smaller parcels is governed by the state of Michigan’s Land Division Act (LDA) and involves local planning and assessing officials. While the act defines the process, some of the components may have local clarification. As stated in the act, a local unit of government “may adopt an ordinance setting forth (local) standards”. This webinar will explore various issues of a local ordinance and provide a framework for local officials to consider whether a local land division ordinance is appropriate for their unit of government.

·       Land Use Planning for All Generations, September 17 – From Baby Boomers to Generation Z, when we were born can influence how we view the world around us, including Land Use. This webinar will give an overview of the research on generational differences and similarities in the US and explore how these differences might show up the planning process. Attendees will be able to identify key traits of US generations, understand why all generations are important to the planning process, and be introduced to strategies to engage and plan for all generations.


Cost per webinar: $10 for MCPs; $20 for Regular Registrants


Citizen Planner Online – Summer Discount Pricing – Enroll at: http://citizenplanner.msu.edu

Citizen Planner Online includes similar content to the classroom program, but is offered in a flexible, self-paced, online format. Citizen Planner Online is different from other courses – the concepts are conveyed through stories about issues unfolding in a fictitious community called Spartyville. The situations Spartyville planning officials face are similar to those many communities must address. The online series of seasons and episodes follows a creative storyline that all learners will enjoy. All you need is a broadband internet connection and a computer, laptop, or tablet. The online version of the program includes:

·       Access to resources similar to the classroom program.

·       Access to relevant web resources, decision-making tools, and online exercises.


Please stay tuned for more training opportunities and like us on Facebook for the most up to date information!

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The CUPPAD Region

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