Code of conduct for your planning commission or zoning board of appeals

Adopting a code of conduct provides guidance and expectations for appointed officials in their respective roles as public officials.

Michigan statutes related to planning and zoning can be long and complicated to read and understand. However, locally-appointed municipal officials are required to abide by the regulations set forth therein. Some of these officials, however, are unaware of their many responsibilities. Adopting a good code of conduct for a planning commission or zoning board of appeals is a responsible action that can assist officials with their role, protect them from liability and avoid the appearance of impropriety before the general public.

A code of conduct clearly spells out the basic responsibilities and expectations of all members of the planning commission or zoning board of appeals. It also informs the public of what is expected of their officials. The code is, at its core, developed to ensure that officials conduct themselves professionally, follow the laws and make proper, informed decisions while carrying out the duties of their positions.

Although not required by law, a code of conduct is essential to quality governance. In situations where needed, referring to a code of conduct makes clear that which may be in question. The last situation you would want to be in is one where you need to have a code to refer to but none exists. Take the time this winter when planning commission and zoning board of appeals activities are usually at their slowest to develop and adopt a code of conduct for your board. This process can be very quick and easy and the results will benefit your municipality for years to come.

Michigan State University Extension provides a sample code of conduct template that you can use to adopt as written or develop and modify to fit the specific needs of your community.

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