2014 LPI Year in Review

This year, the Institute’s contribution to research and outreach efforts have ranged widely to include such topics as placemaking, regionalism, economic development, corridor improvement and improving water quality in the Great Lakes, among others.

December 17, 2014

This year, the Land Policy Institute (LPI)’s contribution to research and outreach efforts have ranged widely to include such topics as placemaking, regionalism, economic development, corridor improvement and improving water quality in the Great Lakes, among others. The Institute has been working with many units on campus, as well stakeholders and policy makers in the state and nationwide in support of building and maintaining sustainable communities in Michigan.

Please visit the Land Policy Institute in 2015 for updates on our research and outreach efforts. Be sure to check out our News Room, Hot Topics and list of our Publications for additional highlights from 2014.

LPI Research

LPI and Networks Northwest Release a Seasonal Population Analysis of Northwest Michigan: Study Quantifies Monthly Distribution of Residential and Visitor Populations in 10 Counties

A report detailing the seasonal population fluctuations in the northwestern counties of Michigan's Lower Peninsula is now available from the LPI. TheNorthwest Michigan Seasonal Population Analysis synthesizes data from a variety of sources to obtain a detailed monthly breakdown of the 2012  populations for the counties of Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee and Wexford. This report was prepared by LPI for Networks Northwest, formerly known as the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. This study updates a 1996 report by APB Associates, Inc., and the Planning & Zoning Center, Inc. (now thePlanning & Zoning Center (PZC) at MSU), which used similar data sources to estimate monthly population structures in the same 10 counties nearly 20 years ago. This new research can help local businesses and policy makers to plan for changes in resource utilization and consumer demand throughout the year.

LPI Releases Study of Placemaking Views and Values of 11 Midwest Cities

A report detailing the views and values of placemaking in Michigan, the Midwest and the Nation is now available from the LPI. Rebuilding Prosperous Places in Michigan brings together many of the findings from various studies on place-based development and digs even deeper into issues of demand and value. This is the second study that LPI has conducted as part of the "Rebuilding Prosperous Places" initiative. The first study was released in 2012, entitled Building Prosperous Places in Michigan. The 2014 study found that, at the national level, people believe that there is a connection between placemaking and economic development, as well as between placemaking and quality of life. Their perceptions about whether their neighborhood and community are better places to live now than five years ago appears to be associated with place-based characteristics, such as visual appeal, mixed-use, shopping, social activities, bike lanes or paths/trails, arts and culture experiences and public transportation. People stated that they want a variety of amenities within a 10-minute walk of their home, including neighborhood grocery stores, farmers' markets, independent local merchants, sandwich shops, coffee shops, parks with multiple uses, libraries, movie cinemas and art fairs.

LPI Pays Tribute to Former MSU Professor, the Late Dr. Raleigh Barlow: Releases Final Book He Co-Authored on Land Resource Management and the New Economy 

The recently published Land Resource Management: Economic Foundations and New Directions is a capstone, the final work of eminent economist, scholar and former MSU Professor, the late Dr. Raleigh Barlowe, who died at age 98 on May 18, 2013. A previous work of his, Land Resource Economics, was a definitive textbook on the subject and ran through four editions (first edition 1958 through fourth edition 1986). It was translated into Spanish, Chinese and Korean, and the publisher (Prentice Hall) reported that at one time the text was in use at 78 colleges or universities. In his professional career, Dr. Barlowe became a global leader in the field of land resource management and had a profound impact on theory and practice at all levels. The LPI is proud to have assisted in the completion and publication of this book.

LPI Outreach

Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability Releases the Corridor Design Portfolio

The Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability (MMPGS), a three-year HUD funded grant administered by the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission with local partners, including LPI, announced the release, in November, of the Building More Livable Communities: Corridor Design Portfolio. Designed for online distribution only, the Portfolio has 159 techniques and is more than 420 pages long, and focuses predominantly on the built environment and placemaking. It is organized the same way as another tool developed by Wayne Beyea in the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC), the Sustainability Audit Tool. The Portfolio was prepared by LPI for MMPGS.

MSU and MML Continue Work on Placemaking Initiatives with MSHDA 
Michigan State University--including the LPI, the MSUE Greening Michigan Institute (GMI) and faculty and students from the SPDC--and the Michigan Municipal League (MML) continue partnering in 2014-2015 with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) in provision of placemaking training, research, planning and policy assistance. The activities of both organizations are covered in a $720K contract. This work builds on prior contracts from 2012 and 2013 that MSU and MML received from MSHDA for work on the MIplace Partnership Initiative.

Activities for 2014 included:

  • The LPI and GMI prepared Version 4.0 of the six-module Placemaking Curriculum that can be presented from one to six hours per module; 
  • The LPI created an extensive evaluation system for the Placemaking Curriculum, including various survey instruments and summary reports based on the target audience.
  • The LPI wrote a white paper explaining the etymology of the word “placemaking” and the differences between strategic, standard, creative and tactical placemaking. This white paper is complete and available at “Definition of Placemaking: Four Different Types.” More details below in the LPI Articles section.
  • The LPI developed a draft Placemaking Guidebook, which is based on the Placemaking Curriculum. It will be completed and distributed in the first half of 2015.
  • The LPI and GMI conducted 19 trainings for 118 State agency staff.
  • The LPI and GMI trained 52 more professionals to deliver the Placemaking Curriculum.
  • In total, more than 6,000 people at more than 250 venues were exposed to the Placemaking Curriculum (bringing to more than 10,000, the number of people exposed to the program). By the end of December 2014, an additional 1,200 persons will be targeted for Placemaking (PM) training.
  • The LPI designed and delivered the Placemaking Strategy Development Workshop series. This series involved one training event using Modules 1-3 of the Placemaking Curriculum followed 3-4 weeks later by a facilitated workshop to targeted large cities, suburbs and small towns and adjoining townships. A total of 15 communities were strategically invited to participate and a total of 30 trainings (two in each community) were conducted. Thirteen communities submitted draft placemaking strategies as a result of this training program.
  • The LPI assisted the ICC-PPS subcommittee with the design of a process to implement effective Strategic Placemaking, across State departments, by refining the Strategic Placemaking Project Review Criteria and Triage Decision Tree. The products were refined based on field testing and approved by the ICC-PPS for use across the state. The MSHDA used these materials in training with the nine other regional field teams.
  • The LPI staff, working with a subcommittee of the ICC-PPS, converted the Toolbox day-long training program into a draft module that fits the format of the other six Placemaking Curriculum modules.
  • The LPI staff and MML assisted MSHDA, the ICC-PPS, and an assembly of key State agency staff to refine metrics for the MIplace Partnership Initiative, including refining key outcomes and measurement goals, and establishing a mechanism to gather data and measure progress and outcomes.
  • The LPI created a draft Placemaking Assessment Tool and a companion handout, Community Revitalization Toolkit, which lists programs that offer technical assistance for Placemaking.
  • The SPDC and MML prepared eight PlacePlans (in Cadillac, Detroit, Flint, Holland, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Marquette and Midland);
  • The LPI refined and distributed guidelines for the preparation of Regional Prosperity Plans.

This work will continue into 2015. See Coming in 2015 from LPI for more details.

Saginaw Bay Watershed Project (2012–2014):

PZC Authors Guidebook on Community Engagement

The PZC, a part of the Land Policy Institute, in partnership with the Flint River Watershed Coalition (FRWC), has developed a new community engagement guide­book. Mark Wyckoff, LPI Senior Associate Director and PZC Director led the project and is a co-author, along with PZC Team members Pardeep Toor and Jason Cox. After participating in community engagement efforts in the City of Flint for the past two years, the PZC has published A Guidebook to Community Engagement: Involving Urban and Low-Income Populations in an Environmental Planning Process.

PZC Releases New Vision Documents for Flint Park Lake and Thread Lake, and Adjoining Neighborhoods in Flint

The PZC partnered with community leaders to host multiple community engagement efforts in the neighborhoods surrounding Flint Park Lake and Thread Lake in Flint, MI. The resulting input, feedback and insight from the community was compiled into vision documents for the neighborhoods that complements existing efforts in the area and the larger Flint Master Plan. The visions also outline stakeholder responsibilities for the implementation of each plan. Implementation will require a concerted and cooperative effort from many existing stakeholders and organizations currently working in the area along with the City of Flint and Genesee County. The visions attempt to summarize the current efforts of existing stakeholders, the momentum building from current projects, and opportunities for future improvements. Download: Flint Park Lake Vision and Thread Lake Vision.

LPI Events

LPI Co-Sponsored 2014 Built Environment Showcase

The relationship between the built environment and Michigan’s economy was the topic at the forefront of presentations as researchers, State agency representatives, local and federal officials, developers, MSU students and the public gathered for the 2014 Built Environment Showcase. The conference took place on November 7, 2014, at MSU in East Lansing. This was the second time this conference was held. The first was in 2012. More than 200 individuals attended the Showcase. The conference was co-hosted by the SPDC; the LPI; MSU Auxiliary Enterprises; the MSHDA; the Michigan Economic Development Corporation; and Prima Civitas.

Saginaw Bay Watershed Project:

PZC Hosted Second Saginaw Bay Watershed Conference in 2014

The PZC hosted the second Saginaw Bay Watershed Conference at Saginaw Valley State University Thursday, June 12, 2014. This event was co-sponsored by 14 local organizations and statewide agencies concerned with the health of the Saginaw Bay and Great Lakes water quality. More than 170 attendees learned about the renewed Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement; the new Michigan Water Strategy; policy issues impacting water quality; stormwater and nutrients; and local tools and technologies that can help improve water quality. Three plenary speakers were featured at the conference, including John Austin from the Michigan Economic Center at Prima Civitas who talked about "Blue is the New Green;" Todd Ambs from Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition who spoke about “A New Paradigm for the Great Lakes;” and Jon Allan from the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality who addressed “The Values of Michigan’s Water.”

PZC and FRWC Hosted Visioning Sessions for Thread Lake and Flint Park Lake in Flint

On February 20, and March 18, 2014, a team of researchers from the PZC and the FRWC presented a new visions for Thread Lake and Flint Park Lake, respectively, as well as their surrounding neighborhoods. The visions were created after engaging and gathering input from citizens and stakeholders at previous events in 2013. Individuals from Thread Lake and Flint Park Lake attended the vision presentations and provided input, feedback and suggestions that contributed to the development of the final vision documents released Summer 2014 (mentioned above in the LPI Outreach section).

PZC and FOSR Hosted Water Quality Protection Workshops

The PZC, in partnership with the Friends of the Shiawassee River (FOSR), hosted three rural water quality protection workshops in Owosso, St. Charles and Fenton, from February-March 2014. Planning commissioners, city council members, conservationists and concerned citizens were invited to attend the workshops which provided insight on how rural communities can protect water quality in their master plans and zoning ordinances. The presentations also included examples of master plans and zoning ordinances in the region that prioritize water quality protection.

PZC and FRWC Hosted Water Quality Protection Workshops

The PZC, in partnership with the FRWC, hosted a rural water quality protection workshop in Columbiaville, in Lapeer County in Michigan on June 19, 2014. Planning Commissioners, City council members, conservationists and concerned citizens were invited to attend this event, which provided insight on how rural communities can protect water quality in their master plans and zoning ordinances. The presentation also included examples of master plans and zoning ordinances in the region that prioritize water quality protection.

MIplace Partnership Initiative:
The LPI and the MSHDA presented on placemaking principles and strategies at various conferences and events throughout 2014. This collaboration is part of a partnership between LPI and MSHDA related to the MIplace Partnership Initiative (mentioned above in LPI Outreach). Below is a listing of the events and topics for these single/ joint speaker presentations:

  • Small Town & Rural Development Conference on April 14, 2014: Making Quality Places: Placemaking Strategy (joint presentation);
  • Building Michigan Communities Conference on April 30: Place-based Development Policy in Michigan (joint presentation);
  • Michigan Green Infrastructure Conference on May 8: Relationship of Green Infrastructure to Placemaking Initiatives (Wyckoff presentation);
  • Michigan Association of Planning Annual Conference on October 10:Placemaking Execution – How to Think/Act Like a Developer (joint presentation);
  • Michigan Municipal League Annual Convention on October 15:Placemaking Execution – How to Think/Act Like a Developer (joint presentation); and
  • 2014 Built Environment Showcase on November 7: MIplace Partnership Initiative and Placemaking Policy (joint presentation).

PZC Hosted Spring 2014 Zoning Administrator Certificate Program
The PZC offered the Zoning Administrator Certificate Program in two locations (Tustin and East Lansing) in February and March 2014. It was designed to offer zoning administration techniques in ways that reduce legal risks to the Zoning Administrator and their community. The rigorous training (24 hours of instruction) requires a substantial time commitment, which includes completion of eight modules leading to a certificate for those that pass an exam associated with each module. The program also provides techniques for doing zoning administration in ways that reduce legal risks to the Zoning Administrator and their community.

LPI Articles

LPI’s Graebert on East Lansing Park District – A Missed Opportunity?

Voters in the City of East Lansing recently weighed in on a proposal to allow the City to sell three parking lots near the intersection of Albert Avenue and Abbot Road that were part of a proposed redevelopment, known as the Park District. The proposal missed the three-fifths supermajority necessary to pass by three percentage points in the November 2014 election. Opponents expressed concerns that negotiations between the City and the two developers involved in the plan were not far enough along, and some residents were hesitant to move forward after a previously failed development project at this intersection. As a result of the failed vote, one developer, DTN Management Co., has withdrawn its $70 million proposal to develop 2.8 acres of public property in the Park District, which hinged on the availability of the three parking lots.

Was this a missed opportunity for a successful placemaking project? It’s really hard to say at this point. For one, it may just be a delay in the process, as the City may have another opportunity to bring this question before the voters next year. For another, placemaking is a process that, like many traditional developments, can meet with numerous obstacles and delays along the way. Gaining public support to increase density is only one of them. However, the Park District plan has a number of things going for it that will hopefully lead to success. Read more.

LPI's Warbach Authors Article on Eco Districts and Infrastructure

John Warbach, PhD, LPI Associate Director, authored an article, titled "Eco Districts: An Old Idea for Infrastructure Gets New Life." The focus of his article is on how to better grow sustainably in the future as a population, including how we address our built environment, to provide for a healthier future for our economy, people and planet. Download Warbach's article at: Eco Districts.

LPI’s Warbach on How to Better Communicate about Climate Change and It's Impacts

I recently attended a conference, Building Climate Solutions, which was held by the National Coalition for Science and the Environment in January 2014. It provided myself and other attendees with the latest information on climate change, and addressed what solutions are available to help slow or reverse global warming, and how we can adapt our communities to the existing and coming changes. This includes how to talk about climate change. It was attended by about 1,100 representatives of nonprofits, community organizations, media, local, state, national governments (U.S. and other nations), academics and scientists. Some of the keynote presentations are available online. As there is a widespread impression that conservative groups are most adamant that climate change is a false premise, or oppose government involvement to implementing solutions to climate change, a special effort was made at the Conference to include conservative voices and to discuss communication with conservative audiences. Read more.

LPI's Wyckoff Authors Article on Four Different Types of Placemaking 

In the January edition of the Planning & Zoning News (PZN), Mark Wyckoff, editor of PZN, LPI Senior Associate Director and PZC Director, authored an article, titled the "Definition of Placemaking: Four Different Types." He wrote this article specifically to address several common questions: What is the definition of placemaking? What distinguishes different types of placemaking?When should different types of placemaking be used?

According to Wyckoff, "Placemaking is catching on as another way to improve the quality of various places in a neighborhood, and by extension, the community and region in which those places are located. However, the myriad uses of the term are sometimes confusing and contradictory, and this dilutes the value of the concept and undermines its utility in helping neighborhoods and communities imagine and create a better future." Read the complete article atDefinition of Placemaking.

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