Zoning Administrator Certificate Program

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Zoning Administrator Certificate Program

The MSU Extension Zoning Administrator Certificate (ZAC) Program was designed to teach zoning administration techniques in ways that reduce legal risks to the zoning administrator and their community. This is a unique, intensive training that includes 16-18 hours of varied programming.

The Zoning Administrator Certificate Program has been offered annually at various locations around the state since 2009. Zoning administrators make up the majority of participants attending the training. However, the program also attracts private consultants, county planners who consult with local zoning administrators, local elected officials, and state agency staff. It has even attracted some unexpected participants who may have taken on the responsibility of the zoning administrator, due to lack of staff and funding at the local or county levels.  Although this program is based on Michigan statute, out-of-state participants can also register.

Registrants are required to complete the Citizen Planner Program prior to the start of ZAC. Those with AICP certification are not required to take Citizen Planner, although it is recommended if they do not have zoning experience.

Topics Covered

There are eight training modules in the Zoning Administrator Certificate Program, and each is 1.5-2.5 hours of classroom time (including individual and group activities).

  1. Job Description, Responsibilities and Basic Ethics - Explore the roles and responsibilities of a zoning administrator and how to carry out those duties ethically.
  2. Legal Issues - Learn about the legal context within which zoning administrators serve and summaries of key court cases relevant to zoning.
  3. Reviewing Applications: Common Procedures and Use of Forms - Gain insights on how to prepare good zoning forms and how best to process them for the case at hand.
  4. Reviewing Plot Plans and Site Plans - Explore what should be in a site plan, best practices for reviewing site plans, how to identify deficiencies in a site plan, and strategies to correct those deficiencies.
  5. Inspections and Violations - Learn about the various approaches for handling potential zoning ordinance violations from identification to different enforcement actions.
  6. Preparing Files, Reports and Record Keeping - Learn best practices for preparing files, drafting office guidelines, writing reports, and organizing files and records.
  7. Interactions with other Professionals and Agencies, and Departmental Duties - Discover new insights and tools to keep your interactions with others productive and professional.
  8. Customer Service and Counter Behavior - Build your ‘soft skills’ that help foster positive relationships with the community and even deescalate tense situations.

Cost: $550 per participant. Financial assistance is available upon request. Some municipal liability insurance providers reimburse member communities for the cost of planning and zoning training. The Michigan Township Participating Plan (Par Plan) - Risk Reduction Program is one such reimbursement program available to Par Plan members only. Contact your municipal liability insurance provider to ask about reimbursement.

Course Format: In-person with adaptability to hybrid mix of self-paced online course, live Zoom Meeting, and in-person