Bad zoning can be worse than no zoning at all

Communities can evaluate planning and zoning programs using performance audit materials from Michigan State University Extension.

Table of zoning.

Bad planning and zoning can do more harm than good in a community, and is even worse than having no zoning at all. Every community strives for the best possible planning and zoning because it can be a great benefit to a residents. It is a continuum -- bad zoning being the least optimal outcome, great zoning the most optimal, and no zoning is somewhere in between.

There are many factors that can result in a community's successful planning and zoning program. It ranges from the purely technical process practices such as basic study and to intimate understanding of what policies will help or harm the long- term development of a community.

Rather than try to list all of those factors, it might be more useful to run down a list of strategies and practices that people involved with planning and zoning should follow. If a community focuses on those things, then the difference between harmful and good planning and zoning is often directly related to the following factors:

  • Amount of continuing education, training of appointed officials, employees, and contractors have had.
  • Zoning that truly is based on the community’s Master Plan, and an effort to keep it that way over time.
  • Commitment to enforcement of various ordinances in a proper but strict matter.
  • Commitment to a professional administrative system where the community enforces their ideas through continuing education into day-to-day practice.
  • Detailed record keeping.
  • Recognition a practice of respecting and following the governmental checks and balance separation of powers: legislative, administrative, quasi-judicial.
  • A budget and funding level that makes it possible to do the above.

MSU Extension has self-evaluation tools that a community can use to conduct a performance audit of its planning and zoning program. These performance audits can be done “in-house” or can be done with the assistance of an MSU Extension landand use educator. Click here to find the nearest Extension land use educator.

To locate the MSU Extension self-help performance audit tools can be found online:

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