Selected Reading List

Selected Reading List for the MSU Extension Citizen Planner Program

What should be in every Planning Commission/Zoning Board of Appeals Library

The primary purpose of this reading list is to provide citizen planners with references to the kind of background material they need to do the best possible job as a planning commissioner.

This reading list is neither exhaustive of materials available on the subjects listed, nor does it represent an endorsement of the accuracy or efficacy of any material presented. Many materials are listed from a wide variety of perspectives, especially in the first category, in order to ensure a representative sampling of materials from different points of view.

A secondary purpose of this reading list is to provide planning directors and consultants with references to materials that could bolster the local planning library. Last, this reading list is also provided as a source for reporters, citizens, students, developers, realtors and others interested in helping shape the future of Michigan’s communities.

The material in this reading list is organized into 11 categories. Seven of those categories represent modules in the Citizen Planner program. These categories are:

Notes about the Selected Reading Lists:

  1. All material is listed in alphabetical order with especially useful material indicated with an asterisk (*) at the end of the citation.
  2. The Reading Lists is not intended as a self-help list for someone to become a self-trained professional planner without the benefit of a collegiate education in urban and regional planning.
  3. The Reading Lists is not comprehensive relative to all the issues a planning commissioner may encounter. The list covers topics that planning commissioners are most likely to encounter.
  4. Some materials are downloadable and copyright approval for reproduction was obtained. These materials do not reflect everything a planning commissioner should know at a basic level.
  5. The materials listed vary widely in accessibility. Some are easily accessible on the Internet, some from libraries, and others are available from bookstores and organizations. There are several materials that are quite old. They are listed because they are exceptional (though some content may not be consistent with all contemporary statutes), but may not be as easily obtained as others. However, these materials can still be found by persons intent on locating them.

Self-Performance Audit for local government planning and zoning

Anoter significant tool available for local governments to help themselves improve the performance of their planning and zoning programs is the series of eleven Planning and Zoning*A*Syst. publications. Designed in a question and answer format to walk one through a process to discover legal deficiencies, areas where better practices can be put in place, and functions that should be happening but are currently not taking place, local officials can conduct these performance audits themselves, or they can contact Michigan State University Extension Land Use Educators to provide the performance audit services. The Planning and Zoning*A*Syst. performance audits are found at Schindler’s Land Use Page, specifically under Pamphlets and Community Planning and Zoning Audits. They are also found at the Michigan State University Extension bookstore.

Topical Planning References


  • Planning, the official publication of the American Planning Association, 122 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60603, (312) 431-9100, Fax: (312) 431-9985,
  • Michigan Planner, a monthly magazine from the Michigan Association of Planning, 219 S. Main St., Suite 300, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, (734) 913-2000,
  • Planning and Zoning News, from the Planning and Zoning Center, 715 N. Cedar St., Lansing, MI 48906-5206, (517) 886-0555, Fax: (517) 886-0564,

Professional Organizations

  • Michigan Municipal League, 1675 Green Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105, (800) 653-2483, Fax: (734) 662-8083,
  • Michigan Townships Association, 512 Westshire Dr., Lansing, MI 48917, (517) 321-6467,
  • Michigan Association of Counties, 935 N. Washington Ave., Lansing, MI 48906, (800) 258-1152, Fax: (517) 482-4599,

Web-based resources

Local resources

When discussing planning and zoning issues, you may contact local agencies that have a hand in these issues:  County/Municipal planning office, Health department, Road commission, Housing commission, Equalization office, Building official, Utility department staff, County/Municipal attorney, School district, County MSU Extension office

Regional planning offices can share census data, land cover maps, transportation information and environmental data as well as help uncover grant opportunities and economic assistance.

Michigan State University

Your regional MSU Extension land use Educator can link planning officials to university information that can help you make informed planning and zoning decisions, including: Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Remote Sensing/Global Information Systems, Institute of Water Research, Land Policy Institute, Small Town Design Initiative, and more.  To find your local land use Educator see: (and scroll to the bottom of the page)

State Agencies

  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Mason Building, Sixth Floor, P.O. Box 30028, Lansing, MI 48909, (800) 292-7200,
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Constitution Hall, 525 W. Allegan St., P.O. Box 30473, Lansing, MI 48909-7973, (800) 662-9278,
  • Michigan Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909, (800) 292-3939,
  • Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Detroit office: (313) 456-3540, Lansing office: (517) 373-8370,
  • Michigan Economic Development Corporation, 300 N. Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48913, (517) 373-9808,
  • Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, c/o Michigan Historical Center, Department of History, Arts and Libraries, P.O. Box 30740, 702 W. Kalamazoo St., Lansing, MI 48909-8240, (517) 373-1630, Fax: (517) 335-0348, preservation@michigan.govwww./

Federal Agencies

  • Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th St. and Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20230,, Chicago Region Office (covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin), 111 N. Canal St., Suite 855, Chicago, IL 60606-7204, (312) 353-7706, Fax: (312) 353-8575
  • USDA Rural Development, Michigan Office, 3001 Coolidge, Suite 200, East Lansing, MI 48823, (517) 324-5190,
  • U.S. Census Bureau, 4700 Silver Hill Rd., Washington, DC 20233-0001,
  • U.S. Geological Survey, (888) ASK-USGS,
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460, (202) 272-0167,
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 14th and Independence Ave., SW, Room 5105-A, Washington, DC 20250, (202) 720-7246, Fax: (202) 720-7690,
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Lakes — Big Rivers Region, 1 Federal Dr., BHW Federal Building, Fort Snelling, MN 55111, (612) 713-5360,