Planning Enabling Act

The Michigan Planning Enabling Act consolidates all planning rules into one law. It actually became law in 2008, but its “transition” provisions have protected your current land use plan. On July 1, 2011, planning commissions are required to adopt new conflict-of-interest rules. Now is a good time to revisit your bylaws and rules.

What does the PEA replace?

The PEA became law in 2008, but the most significant changes don’t apply until July 1, 2011. The PEA consolidated all planning rules into one law, replacing the Municipal Planning Act, Township Planning Act, and County Planning Act.

What happens to our current land use plans and subdivision ordinances?

The MPEA protects you existing land use plans. Unless rescinded by the local unit, any plan adopted or amended under a planning act repealed by the MPEA would not have to be readopted. Any existing land use plan would have the effect of a “master plan,” regardless of whether it were entitled a master plan, basic plan, county plan, development plan, guide plan, land use plan, municipal plan, township plan, plan, or any other term.

Similarly, unless you repealed it, your subdivision ordinance does not need to be readopted or amended to comply with the PEA. If you amend it, though, you would have to follow the PEA’s new procedures.

Does our planning commission continue to exist? What happens to its membership?

Your existing planning commission will continue to exist. The Act aims to give you more flexibility when determining who and how many people sit on the commission. Now, every community can choose between having 5, 7, or 9 members on the commission. And there are new rules regarding having members of your legislative body—or others, including non-electors—sit as ex officio members. Finally, communities with populations of less than 5,000 can consolidate their planning commission into their DDA, TIFA, or EDC board.

How will our planning commission’s rules change?

The Planning Commission now must meet at least four times per year, enact its own bylaws, and submit an annual report to your legislative body. But the most important change is the PEA’s conflict-of-interest rule. We recommend that all planning commissions adopt bylaws or a conflict-of-interest policy to comply with the PEA.

How will the procedures for adopting and amending our Master Plan change?

While there are some changes to the PEA’s adoption and amendment rules (including enhanced notice to neighboring communities), it is not a radical departure from Michigan’s previous planning laws. Nonetheless, adopting or amending a plan is a major undertaking: there are many notice and procedural requirements that you need to follow. When making a new Master Plan (every 5 years), we recommend that you work closely with your attorneys and land use consultant to follow these rules.

How does the PEA affect our ability to approve plats and subdivisions?

If you have a master plan or a master street plan, your planning commission must review and make recommendations on plats before the legislative body acts on them. If a township or city is subject to county zoning, the county planning commission also would have to review and make recommendations on plats before the legislative body of the municipality acted on them.

Your planning commission must hold a public hearing before acting on a proposed plat. It must give notice to the applicant and adjoining landowners, as well as publish notice by newspaper of that hearing at least 15 days beforehand. Your planning commission may comment and propose subdivisions at a hearing that complies with these notice rules.

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