Michigan Townships Association

Planning & Zoning Team

Join your peers from around the state along with expert planners and legal counsel for MTA’s Planning & Zoning Team Retreat. Held at The Highlands in Harbor Springs Oct. 3-4, this retreat offers premier education and excellent networking opportunities. Online registration is now closed; please contact MTA at 517-321-6467 to inquire if space is still available.

Not able to attend in-person? Good news! You can still get the education you need, in a convenient on-demand format.  A recorded version will be available for purchase in mid- to late-October; watch for more details coming soon!

Education Sessions:

Out of Order: Managing Meeting Hot Potatoes
Controversial, emotionally charged meetings or public hearings where tensions are high and tempers flare are happening with increasing frequency. More than just a lesson in grace, conflict and controversy can make a positive contribution to your decision-making processes. Learn steps you can take before, during and after difficult meetings to lessen the stressing and make your meetings more effective.
Presenter: Seth Koches, MTA Legal Counsel, Bauckham, Th all, Seeber, Kaufman & Koches PC

How the Heck Do We Enforce Our Ordinances?
An ordinance won’t work if you don’t enforce it. There is no advantage—and plenty of disadvantages—to having ordinances or provisions that you don’t want, need or use. Learn how to enforce many ordinance violations without involving the township attorney and walk away with complaint forms and notice of violation letters to streamline your enforcement efforts.
Presenter: Seth Koches

Hot Topics in Planning & Zoning
Land use issues keeping you up at night? We can help! Don’t miss this review of the hottest issues in planning and zoning.  An abbreviated version of MTA’s most-popular summer workshop series, this session offers practical, real-life guidance on emerging land use issues from an expert who brings the unique perspective of planner and attorney.
Presenter: Catherine Kaufman, MTA Legal Counsel, Bauckham, Thall, Seeber, Kaufman & Koches PC

What You Need to Know About Renewable Energy
As the state’s climate plan continues to drive renewable energy standards, it’s important that you understand opportunities and challenges for your township. We’ll help you get a handle on all the considerations to ensure your zoning decisions weigh all the options. Your attendance qualifies you to join a future renewable energy site tour.
Presenters: Catherine Kaufman and Sarah Banas Mills, PhD, Senior Project Manager, Graham Sustainability Institute Lecturer, School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan

Managing All the Pieces
Gain insight into the scope and authority of the
planning commission, zoning administrator, zoning
board of appeals and township board. Explore the roles and responsibilities, learn who should (and shouldn’t!) be doing what, and how it all fits together.
Presenter: Michael Selden, MTA Director of Member Information Services

Decision-Making: By the Book
The decisions you make as part of your township’s planning commission or zoning board of appeals will shape your community for years to come! So, it’s critical you reach defensible, effective decisions based on a solid foundation of planning principles and sound procedures. This session takes a deep dive into the decision-making process and is guided by the guy who literally wrote the book on it!
Presenter: Steve Langworthy, land use expert and
author of MTA’s planning & zoning guidebooks

Gotcha! Don’t Take the Bait
Has it happened to you? An angry individual in the
township hall or parking lot, exclaiming complaints
with profanity, acting aggressively and maybe even
armed with a video camera hoping to catch you or
another member behaving badly in reaction to their
accusations. Don’t get caught off guard or be the next social media star. Learn what the law allows and take away tips for addressing this troubling behavior should you get caught in a similar heated and uncomfortable situation.
Presenter: Steven Joppich, Shareholder,
Rosati, Schultz, Joppich & Amtsbuechler PC                                                                                                                      Controversial Land Uses: Regulators, Mount Up!
Your township simply must have a plan in place to deal with controversial and unpopular land use proposals. So how do you comply with the legalities and still address concerns of your residents? Don’t miss this review of what you can (and can’t!) do to address hot-button land use issues.
Presenter: Mike Homier, Attorney, Foster Swift


Tuesday, Oct. 3

9 a.m. – Registration check-in

9:30 a.m. – Welcome

10 a.m. – Out of Order

11:30 a.m. – How the Heck Do We Enforce Our Ordinances?

12:45 p.m. – Networking lunch

1:45 p.m. – Hot Topics in P&Z

3:30 p.m. – What You Need to Know about Renewable Energy

5 p.m. – Adjourn

6 p.m. – Dinner & evening activity

Wednesday, Oct 4
7:30 a.m. – Networking breakfast

8 a.m. – Managing All the Pieces

9:30 a.m. – Decision-Making:                              By the Book

Noon – Networking lunch

1 p.m. – Parade of Stars

1:15 p.m. – Gotcha! Don’t Take
                       the Bait

2:30 p.m. – Vendor  Showcase

3 p.m. – Controversial Land Uses

4:15 p.m. – Adjourn

*Agenda subject to change; doesn’t show breaks.

Hear What Our Expert Has to Say About the Planning & Zoning Team Retreat!

Thank you to our 2023 Professional Development Retreat Sponsors!

Baker Tilly






Michigan CLASS



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