Land Information Access Association (LIAA)


This page contains information on the LIAA grant process which commenced September 13, 2006. A brief introduction provides a project overview. Detailed updates follow under the dated paragraphs. Work was completed in September 2007.


The SWWCOG has received a grant from the Land Information Access Association (LIAA), a Section 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation created in 1993 to stimulate and support greater civic engagement. LIAA’s mission statement is defined as helping people shape better communities through participation, education, information and the effective use of technology. LIAA is located in Traverse City, Michigan, and is supported by several foundations. LIAA’s web page is

The full grant proposal is available by clicking here. The project budget is $ 45,000, including matches by the county and the SWWCOG municipal units.

In particular, the LIAA grant is funded under the LIAA Partnerships for Change program, which is designed to stimulate and support new multi-jurisdictional efforts to develop and adopt local land use policies that result in the preservation of valuable cultural and natural resources, while encouraging urban redevelopment and discouraging urban sprawl. Further detail on this program is available at the web site:

The project goals are to implement the SWWCOG Regional Plan by:

1. Establishing an Urban Growth Boundary
2. Determining appropriate uses for 425 agreements
3. Identifying sites for high density/workforce housing
4. Establishing the best placement for buffers and greenways
5. Comparing local plans and determining the best way to incorporate the above topics as policy

The SWWCOG Regional Plan can be viewed on the SWWCOG Regional Issues page (Item 4).

Heather Seyfarth of LIAA is the project manager for the SWWCOG program. Mark Roby, Planner for Washtenaw County, is also involved in the process.

September 12, 2007 Update

Work under the LIAA scope of activities is now complete. This page will be preserved for archival information purposes. SWWCOG activities related to regional planning are now addressed under the Manchester Community Joint Planning Commission web page.

August 8, 2007 Update

Following the July 2007 break, SWWCOG members returned to discussion of the formation of a Joint Planning Commission for the Manchester community. Mark Roby of Washtenaw County began with the current draft of the agreement establishing the Manchester Community Joint Planning Commission, dated June 13, 2007 (click here to view this document).

Mr. Roby opened with discussion of proposed wording changes brought forward by attorney Fred Lucas, representing Bridgewater and Sharon townships (see August 2 memorandum by Mr. Roby with these proposed changes by clicking here).

Point 1 - Removal for “cause”.

A question was raised of conditions being required by the State Statute -“at will” could be a sufficient condition. The “at will” provision was agreed to, and the “for cause” provisions were to be removed by representatives of all jurisdictions.

Point 2 - Procedure for alternates to the joint planning commission.

The current agreement language is stricter than Lucas’ comments. It was agreed to leave it as written.

Point 3 - Procedure for withdrawing, posting of notice.

“Posting to be as determined by MCL 125.3103 as amended” was agreed to.

Point 4 - Reason for withdrawing.

“Pass an ordinance for formal withdrawal” was agreed to.

Following these draft agreement discussions and changes, Sharon Township raised concerns about their working with Chelsea, Grass Lake and Napoleon, so that joining one regional body does not address these requirements. Manchester Township indicated that it works with the Irish Hills and Clinton, with appointed representatives to these bodies.

There followed extensive discussion about the desirability of regional planning and State emphasis on the sharing of services. Freedom Township expressed concern about the repeal and saving clause. It was indicated that these are standard, court-tested clauses. Freedom Twp. wants to have their attorney review this clause.

The Chair asked that any suggested changes be e-mailed to all SWWCOG members as soon as possible. The Roll Call vote was tabled until September. It is planned to have a September “kick-off” and appointment of the Manchester Community Joint Planning Commission members.

The draft Table of Contents was distributed (see July update below for link) Mr. Roby wants to rework this draft and distribute it by e-mail within the next week. Members will plan for further discussion in September.

LIAA proposes a public community planning workshop as the final step in their process, sometime after the Joint Planning Commission is in place. It was suggested by one member that a public survey would be more effective than a public meeting.

Mr. Roby also stated that a Citizen Planner Training/Team Building retreat for the new planning commission could be conducted. The County has received a $1000 grant from the MSU Extension Service. It could be hosted at the Village or School with Carlisle-Wortman to conduct the training.

The draft Village of Manchester Ordinance for the Joint Planning Commission was also provided. Click here to view.

June 13, 2007 Update

At its June 13, 2007 meeting, SWWCOG members discussed a proposed “Manchester Community Joint Planning Commission Agreement”, wherein a Joint Planning Commission would be authorized and enabled to create a new joint regional master plan. This Agreement, and corresponding individual enabling ordinances to be adopted by the participating communities, were reviewed with extensive comments from the audience and members. The Agreement was approved with amendments by acclamation. The individual communities will carry the agreement and enabling ordinance back to their respective boards for approval and for appointment of Joint Planning Commission members.

The Joint Planning Commission Agreement may be viewed by clicking here.

Individual municipality enabling draft ordinances may be viewed by clicking the appropriate name: Manchester Village, Manchester Township, Bridgewater Township, Freedom Township, Sharon Township.

A motion was also approved to authorize the SWWCOG Chair to call a special meeting if needed to address concerns raised by the participating municipalities. The Commission is expected to be populated by September. The meeting schedule of the Joint Planning Commission was discussed and is yet to be resolved.

A Draft Timeline for the Joint Planning Commission has been prepared. This will be discussed further at the August SWWCOG meeting. It may be viewed by clicking here.

A Draft Table of Contents has also been prepared for consideration, and may be viewed by clicking here.

SWWCOG will utilize remaining LIAA support. Heather Seyfarth recommends issuing a press release and flyers, and holding a public meeting/visioning session in September. Seyfarth will e-mail a draft of the flyer to members.

Washtenaw County intends to work with current unit planning consultants on this matter.

May 9, 2007 Update

Mark Roby and Joe VanderMeulen led discussion of a draft agreement for establishing a Joint Planning Commission. Mr. VanderMeulen provided a slide presentation on the key requirements for a Joint Planning Commission in accordance with the “Joint Municipal Planning Act” (Public Act 226 of 2003). This slide presentation may be viewed by clicking here.

Mr. VanderMeulen then presented a draft “Agreement Establishing the Manchester Community Joint Planning Commission”, created by LIAA from the SWWCOG April meeting direction and related it to key points in Section 5 of the Joint Municipal Planning Act.2003). The various municipalities would need to implement this joint agreement by ordinance. The May 9 draft Agreement may be viewed by clicking here.

R. Little questioned the inclusion of “and to jointly exercise zoning powers” in Paragraph 1, Purpose and Jurisdictional Area. R. Mann discussed the instruction in the following paragraph stating “may”, so he is comfortable with that statement. R. Ellison suggested and it was agreed to use “may include jointly exercising zoning powers”. J. Wallace stated that this will facilitate using PA-7 or PA-425 agreements.

J. O’Jack questioned whether this would be a Zoning or a Regulatory Ordinance. J. VanderMeulen stated that the Public Act only states “by Ordinance”, so this is undefined. G. Blades asked whether this could be implemented by PA-7 rather than by Ordinance. J. O’Jack’s opinion was that PA-7 would not provide the intended protections against exclusionary zoning claims, but the entire Act has yet to be court tested.

There was discussion about representation. R. Mann stated that for accountability it is important that one representative from each entity be an elected official. Each jurisdiction will appoint two representatives, of which one must be an elected official. No requirement stated relative to Planning Commission. All will be two year terms, except for initial one year appointments. LIAA needs to add provision for elected official appointments to expire if they are no longer in their elected office.

Financial controls and administration were discussed.

S. Kolon expressed concern about limiting officers to only two consecutive one year terms. The limitation of officer service was eliminated.

A further change was made that “this agreement is in effect only if there are two or more members”.

J. O’Jack expressed concern about effect of “9. Powers and Duties” of existing Planning Commissions in the individual entities.

M. Roby put together a potential Table of Contents and draft Time Line for the SWWCOG Regional Plan.

April 11, 2007 Update

At the April 11, 2007 SWWCOG meeting, Mark Roby, Joe VanderMeulen, and Heather Seyfarth began the session by answering various questions about current and pending Joint Planning legislation. Pat Vailliencourt clarified that the current intent of a Joint Planning Commission is not to replace existing planning commissions, but to form this joint commission to update the existing regional plan and make it legally defensible. There was discussion that legal clarification would be needed on what the required role of this joint commission would be after the local commissions/boards accepted the plan. There was discussion that the Joint Commission may need to be kept intact for plan updates as required.

Heather Seyfarth reviewed the responses to the March questionnaires from Manchester Village, Manchester Township, and Bridgewater Township. These responses may be viewed by clicking here. There was discussion and agreement among the members on the various questionnaire points.

The Fremont joint planning agreement and its correlation to the questionnaire responses was presented as a model. Click here to view the Fremont agreement.

LIAA will draft a Resolution for a Regional Plan based on this discussion and the questionnaire responses, and provide it to the elected officials before the May SWWCOG meeting.

March 14, 2007 Update

The March meeting focused on the concept of a “Joint Planning Commission” and its possible implementation within the SWWCOG area. Joe VanderMeulen of LIAA made a presentation on the Joint Municipal Planning Act, and then discussed the formation process and status of existing Joint Planning Commissions in Michigan.

Joe’s complete PowerPoint presentation may be viewed by clicking here.

Several handouts were provided for consideration by the SWWCOG members.

The enabling legislation for Joint Planning Commissions is contained in the Joint Municipal Planning Act (Act 226 of 2003), and may be viewed by clicking here. An article entitled “Cooperative Land Use Planning with the Joint Municipal Planning Act - Are Michigan's Local Governments Ready?”, written by Mr. VanderMeulen, was also given to participants, and may be viewed by clicking here.

Heather Seyfarth presented a questionnaire entitled “Developing an Agreement/Ordinance for Joint Planning - Key Questions to Answer”, with a request to submit responses to her by March 30 to support preparation for the April SWWCOG meeting. The questionnaire may be viewed by clicking here. As a guide and reference, the answers to these questions as completed by the Fremont community can be viewed by clicking here.

Contact information for the various municipalities undertaking Urban Growth Boundaries definition and Joint Planning Commissions was also provided. Click here for this information.

Participants were also requested to complete and forward to Heather Seyfarth by March 30 a worksheet entitled “SWWCOG Regional Plan Implementation Planning and Zoning Procedures Exercise”. View by clicking here. This completed exercise as performed by the Fremont community is also available as an example by clicking here.

Finally, Senate Bill 115 to amend the Joint Municipal Planning Act was passed out for information, and may be viewed by clicking here.

Considerable discussion followed among the participants. Some members supported the joint regional plan and joint planning commission as the best alternative for SWWCOG. A member inquired about using PA-7 instead. Mr. VanderMeulen acknowledged that this seemed permissible under that act, but no Michigan jurisdictions use that approach. A member emphasized the importance of the Regional Plan in planning locations of private wastewater treatment facilities. Mr. VanderMeulen was asked about revising the SWWCOG Regional Plan to make it as legally defensible as possible. He stated that this approach does not follow the Joint Municipal Planning Act. He suggested that setting up a regional planning commission to do this plan would comply with this act.

Mark Roby (Washtenaw County) expressed concern about duplicating what was done in 2003. If a Regional Planning Commission is set up, he recommended that SWWCOG members serve on this Commission. A participant inquired as to which other community has the “best” agreement. Mr. VanderMeulen expressed that Fremont was the best in his opinion.

Heather Seyfarth summarized the objectives which LIAA was brought in to address. This has evolved to discussion of a Regional Planning Commission and Plan. She also talked about planning and zoning procedures. She distributed “Key Questions” to be considered, and a Planning and Zoning Procedures exercise to be answered by SWWCOG members. Mr. VanderMeulen indicated that LIAA could compile the answers to this exercise, to highlight differences as a framework for agreement among Townships and Village. SWWCOG members agreed to do so.

February 14, 2007 Update

The SWWCOG agenda item relative to the LIAA-supported regional plan implementation began with Chair Pat Vailliencourt referencing her letter of February 12 (included in the February SWWCOG agenda). She emphasized the importance of SWWCOG regional action before we are overrun by development pressures. Ron Mann stated that state legislation is moving strongly in the direction of regional cooperation, and likely will be required in the future. Bob Little stated that the SWWCOG group has been recognized at the state level. Ron Ellison stated that the state will dictate this cooperation in the near future, and that SWWCOG has the opportunity to be on the leading edge, rather than having something imposed on us.

After these introductory remarks, a SWWCOG Regional Plan Implementation Workbook draft document was distributed by Heather Seyfarth of LIAA to the Chief Elected Officials and Planning Commission Chairs. The contents of this document were then discussed. Mark Roby of Washtenaw County Planning discussed materials mailed to members prior to meeting, comparing Master Plan Goal Statements among the townships and the village. The “Topics for Discussion” presented the following options:

Option 1: A joint regional master plan addressing all land uses with a single master plan for the four Townships and the Village, and a single joint planning commission with representation from all five jurisdictions.

Option 2: A joint area plan (e.g. “Manchester Services Area”) directing growth to a jointly agreed upon designated area, with joint review by participating jurisdictions of proposals within the designated area.

Option 3: Status quo.

Extensive discussion about these options followed. The need to summarize the procedures and responsibilities of the respective SWWCOG bodies for each option was identified. Roby will perform this study and diagram the procedural flowcharts for each option. Peter DeLoof recommended that each unit then consider that implementation for each of the zoning classifications.

It was agreed that on the March meeting agenda, there will be further discussion about Options 1 and 2 based on this flowchart.

Pat Vailliencourt suggested that SWWCOG needs the parallel activity to define where we want our growth to occur, and thus mark the Regional map. This was also agreed to for the March meeting agenda. Sybil Kolon inquired about timing considerations of the LIAA Grant. Roby and Seyfarth discussed the change in emphasis by SWWCOG members as this process has evolved and on-going efforts by LIAA to support this.

The draft Regional Plan Implementation Workbook may be viewed by clicking here. The various appendices for the workbook distributed with the paper copies at the SWWCOG meeting are not currently included with this electronic version. Some of the appendices are available by ftp transfer via this web site:

January 10, 2007 Update

At the January 10, 2007 SWWCOG meeting, Mark Roby, Planner for Washtenaw County, presented a “road map” for moving forward on the SWWCOG Regional Plan goal implementation as set forth in the LIAA grant process. The five goals of the LIAA grant process were defined again and reviewed with members. The steps to be accomplished in the next six months were identified, both in terms of background information to be assembled, and specific implementation actions to be completed.

The members reviewed the work plan and offered comments (see January SWWCOG meeting minutes). Beginning at the February 14 SWWCOG meeting, the members will move forward with this process.

The work plan document presented by Mr. Roby may be viewed by clicking here.

SWWCOG members also heard a related presentation by Mr. Tony VanDerworp, Director of the county’s Department of Planning and Environment. Tony reviewed the recent State of Michigan Court of Appeals decision entitled Earl Anspaugh and Trinity of Michigan, LLC v. Imlay Township and Imlay Township Planning Commission. This case provides a discussion of exclusionary zoning claims, important findings regarding the “reasonableness” of master plans, and recommendations for preparations that should be taken by local government units to maintain legal defensibility of their master plans.

A summary memo by Mr. VanDerworp and Mr. Brett Lenart, and the Court of Appeal’s court order, may be viewed by clicking here.

Mr. VanDerworp also presented to SWWCOG members an advisory memorandum and recommendations regarding population growth projections and their use in updating master plans, particularly in ensuring legal defensibility of the master plan. Several court cases were cited, along with recommended action to be taken by local units of government when preparing master plans and related activities. The estimated costs to prepare a “typical” master plan were also presented.

This memo may be viewed by clicking here.

December 13, 2006 Update

The December 13, 2006 meeting of SWWCOG continued with the information gathering and planning process for a regional plan utilizing the LIAA grant. A presentation entitled “Density Techniques to Improve Livability” was made by Mr. Mark Wyckoff, Director of the MSU Planning and Zoning Center and Associate Director of the Land Policy Institute.

Mr. Wyckoff’s talk addressed four issues for consideration:

  1. Techniques to ensure higher density development occurs in areas having existing urban services
  2. How to base residential capacity on the carrying capacity of the land
  3. How to promote cohesive neighborhoods through innovative design
  4. How to determine the best areas for both single and multiple family development while preserving small town character

His talk identified three “keys to success”:

  1. Rural renewable resources and sensitive environmental resources protected from development and preserved wherever feasible
  2. Urban development on land suited for intensive development and provided with all necessary urban services
  3. Multi-jurisdictional view and intergovernmental cooperation

The talk was illustrated by several case studies from Michigan municipalities, followed by specific recommendations for consideration by SWWCOG in its planning.

The full PowerPoint presentation may be viewed by clicking here (3.0 MB file).

Mr. Wyckoff also presented a summary entitled “Relative Pros and Cons of Low Density Zoning Alternatives”, with implications for agriculture resources, rural character, gravel roads, streams and public service costs. This summary may be viewed by clicking here.

A listing of additional resources and web sites for use in this planning was also provided, and may be viewed by clicking here.

The January 2007 SWWCOG meeting will take a pause from formal presentations, and begin examining what we have learned so far and how it might be applied towards the SWWCOG regional planning process.

       Mark Wyckoff                          Part of the SWWCOG Audience

November 27, 2006 Update

Mark Roby, Planner for Washtenaw County, has provided two documents which may be of use during the SWWCOG regional planning process.

Washtenaw County Resource Assessment

In September 2006, the Washtenaw County Conservation District published a study entitled “Washtenaw County Resource Assessment”. This resource assessment is a continuous process of determining the County natural resource/environmental issues and concerns that need to be addressed. As a result of this resource assessment process, the prioritized major natural resource/environmental issues identified were: Land Use, Surface & Ground Water Quality, Wildlife & Habitat, Wetlands, and Forests.

The procedure used to identify these concerns included:

• Developing a list of stakeholders.
• Contacting stakeholders to gather input on issues and concerns.
• Preparing a resource assessment document, which summarizes the information obtained
   and identifies the priority issues the District will focus on over the next five years.

The report may be viewed by clicking here.

The Washtenaw County Conservation District is a local unit of state government organized by the people of Washtenaw County under provisions of The Soil Conservation District Law. The District’s mission is to educate and assist the people of Washtenaw County with the conservation and management of their natural resources.

Washtenaw County Transit Plan Survey

The County is seeking input on transit service in the county, to be used in developing a Washtenaw County Transit Plan. To this end, a survey has been prepared, and the County is requesting responses to the survey. The survey may be viewed by clicking here.

Completed surveys may be sent to:

Washtenaw Area Transportation Study
705 N. Zeeb Road
Ann Arbor MI, 48103

November 8, 2006 SWWCOG/LIAA Meeting

The November 8, 2006 SWWCOG meeting featured a LIAA-sponsored presentation by Dr. Lynn Harvey, Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University. Dr. Harvey spoke on Michigan’s “Conditional Land Transfer Act”, Public Act 425 of 1984. PA 425 agreements, as they are commonly referred to, promote cooperation among municipalities in creating economic development opportunities, and avoiding annexation battles over the new tax base which is developed.

The basic provision of PA 425 agreements is that two or more local units may “conditionally” transfer land for a period not to exceed 50 years, for the purpose of supporting an economic development project, and to share in the tax revenue.

Dr. Harvey’s presentation slides may be viewed by clicking here.

Dr. Harvey also provided a copy of a thorough summary paper on PA 425 history, issues and recommendations for future action, entitled “The Conditional Land Transfer Act: Research, Reflections and Policy Recommendations”, which may be viewed by clicking here.

Discussion followed the presentation. It was suggested that village-township cooperation agreements through the Urban Cooperation Act (PA 7 of 1967 ES) may better suit village/township needs. Some feel PA 425 agreements are better to accommodate planning processes than PA-7. Dr. Harvey will summarize PA-425 vs. PA-7 for village-township agreements, and supply this to LIAA.

At the December SWWCOG meeting, Dr. Mark Wyckoff, MSU Director of Planning and Zoning Center, will make a presentation on high density housing. A question worksheet was passed out in preparation for this meeting.

October 11, 2006 SWWCOG/LIAA Meeting

The SWWCOG members, Heather Seyfarth of the Land Information Access Association (LIAA), and Mark Roby of the Washtenaw County Planning Department continued with initial activities leading to implementation of the SWWCOG Regional Plan. The meeting was conducted October 11, 2006 during the regular SWWCOG meeting at Bridgewater Township Hall.

To view the agenda for the October 11, 2006 meeting, please click here.

The project goals as initially presented at the September 13, 2006 meeting were reviewed. An updated Project Work Plan was also presented and reviewed. Click here to view the Work Plan.

A comparison table was presented of the “goals” stated by each of the jurisdictions’ master plans, identifying similarities and differences among the jurisdictions. Click here to view the SWWCOG Master Plans Goal Statements comparison table.

A table was also presented comparing the existing zoning density for different zoning districts in each of the five jurisdictions (Bridgewater, Freedom, Manchester, Sharon townships and the Village of Manchester). This table was used to identify and discuss similarities and differences among the jurisdictions. Click here to view the Local Jurisdiction Existing Zoning Density table.

Small group exercises were then conducted.

An exercise was conducted entitled “SWWCOG Regional Plan Transitional Zone/Buffer Definition”. The purpose was stated as follows: “To help manage growth, a primary goal of this project is to establish a transitional zone/buffer. This exercise is designed to help determine how a transitional zone/buffer best fits with this community. The exercise may be viewed by clicking here.

Another exercise was conducted entitled “SWWCOG Regional Plan: Translating the Regional Plan”. The purpose of the exercise was presented as: Implementing the SWWCOG Regional Plan will require changes to local master plans and zoning ordinances. This exercise is designed to help move us in that direction by better defining the SWWCOG Regional Plan Map Land Use Categories with the SWWCOG Regional Plan Common Nomenclature for Zoning Districts (as part of the implementation of the plan, local units of government agreed to nomenclature for zoning districts within their zoning ordinances). To view the exercise structure, click here.

September 21, 2006 Update

A revised SWWCOG Partnerships for Change Work Plan has been issued by LIAA, based on the discussions of September 13, 2006. Please click here to view the revised work plan.

September 13, 2006 Update

The initial meeting of the LIAA grant process was held at the SWWCOG September meeting at Freedom Township Hall. The meeting agenda may be viewed by clicking here.

LIAA presented on the goals, process and issues concerning this grant. The full presentation is available by clicking here (3.9MB file).

The initial SWWCOG Partnerships for Change Work Plan was presented. Click here to view the initial Work Plan presented September 13.

Comments and questions received from the audience were discussed. Refer to the September 2006 SWWCOG minutes. LIAA agreed to carry back these questions and comments for incorporation. The grant review process will continue at the October 2006 SWWCOG meeting.

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