Planning Commission Bylaws for Elm River Township

Adopted October 23, 2008


The Elm River Township (ERT) Planning Commission hereby adopts the following rules of procedure to facilitate the performance of its duties as outlined in the Michigan Planning and Enabling Act, Public Act 33 of 2008.





A.         Selection and Tenure—At the first regular meeting each April, the Planning Commission shall select from its membership a chairperson, vice chairperson and secretary.  All officers shall serve a term of one year, or until their successors are selected and assume office, except as noted in B and C, below.  All officers shall be eligible for re-election for consecutive terms for the same office.


B.          Chairperson—The chairperson shall preside at all meetings, appoint committees, prepare annual report for the ERT Board and perform such other duties as may be ordered by the Planning Commission.


C.         Vice-Chairperson—The vice chairperson shall act in the capacity of the chairperson in his/her absence.  In the event the office of chairperson becomes vacant, the vice chairperson shall succeed to this office for the unexpired term, and the Planning Commission shall select a successor to the office of vice chairperson for the un-expired term.


D.         Secretary—The secretary shall execute documents in the name of the Planning Commission, perform the duties hereinafter listed below, and shall perform such other duties as the Planning Commission may determine.

1.      Minutes—The secretary shall be responsible for maintaining a permanent record of the minutes of each meeting and shall have them recorded in suitable permanent records maintained by the township clerk. The minutes shall contain a brief synopsis of the meeting, including a complete restatement of all motions and record of votes, conditions, or recommendations made on any action and record of attendance.


2.      Correspondence—The secretary shall be responsible for issuing formal written correspondence with other groups or persons, as directed by the Planning Commission.  All communications, petitions, reports, or other written materials received by the secretary shall be brought to the attention of the Planning Commission.


3.      Attendance—The secretary shall be responsible for maintaining an attendance record for each Planning Commission member and report those records annually to the Planning Commission for inclusion in the annual report to the township board.


4.      Notices—The secretary shall issue such notices as may be required by the Planning Commission.


E.          Township Board Representative—The township board representative shall present the recommendations of the Planning Commission as required by the zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance, or other ordinance to the township board before their consideration of such request.





A.  Regular Meetings—The Planning Commission shall hold not less than four regular meetings each year and by resolution shall determine the time and place of such meetings.  Other meetings may be held as necessary.  When a regular meeting falls on a legal holiday or upon a day resulting in a conflict, the Planning Commission shall, if possible, select a suitable alternate meeting date in the same month as the originally scheduled meeting.

Notice of regular or scheduled Planning Commission meetings shall be posted at the principal township office within 30 days after the Planning Commission’s first regular meeting in each year in accordance with the Open Meetings Act, 1976 PA 267, MCL 15.261 to 15.275.


B.  Special Meetings—Special meetings may be called by the chairperson or upon written request to the secretary by at least two members of the Planning Commission.  The business the Planning Commission may perform shall be conducted at a public meeting held in compliance with the Open Meetings Act.  All costs of special meetings held to consider requests of applicants for approvals under the zoning ordinance (or for such other purposes as may be necessary) shall be paid by the applicant for such requests. 

Notice of special meetings shall be given to the members of the Planning Commission at least forty-eight (48) hours before the meeting.  Such notice shall state the purpose, time, and location of the special meeting and shall be posted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act.


C.  Public Records—All meetings, minutes, records, documents, correspondence and other materials of the Planning Commission shall be open to public inspection in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, 1976 PA 442, MCL 15.231 to 15.246. except as may otherwise be provided by law.


D.  Quorum—Three members of a five-member Planning Commission shall constitute a quorum for transacting business and taking official action for all matters.  Whenever a quorum is not present, those present may adjourn the meeting to another time and day, in accordance with the provisions of the Open Meetings Act, or hold the meeting to consider the matters on the agenda. No action shall be taken at a meeting at which a quorum is not present.


E.  Voting—An affirmative vote of the majority of the Planning Commission membership is required to adopt any part of the master plan or amendments to the plan (MCL 125.328).  Unless required by statute, other actions or motions placed before the Planning Commission may be adopted by a majority vote of the membership in attendance, as long as a quorum is present.  Voting shall be by voice vote; a roll call vote shall be required if requested by any Commission member or directed by the chairperson.  All Planning Commission members, including the chairperson, shall vote on all matters, but the chairperson shall vote last.


F.  Agenda—The chairperson shall be responsible for preparing an agenda for Planning Commission meetings.  The order of business for meetings suggested as follows:

1.      Call to Order


2.      Roll Calls and Recognition of Visitors


3.      Approval of Agenda


4.      Approval of Minutes


5.      Scheduled Public Hearings


6.      Additional Matters for Review

a.       _____________________________

b.      _____________________________


7.      Correspondence


8.      Reports

a.       Report of Township Board Representative

b.      Others


9.      Old Business


10.  New Business


11.  Setting Public Hearing Dates


12.  Public Comment (3 minutes)


13.  Comments from Planning Commissioners


14.  Adjournment


G.  Public Hearings—All public hearings held by the Planning Commission must be held as part of a regular or special meeting of the Planning Commission. The following rules of procedure shall apply to public hearings held by the Planning Commission:


1.      Chairperson opens the public hearing and announces the subject.


2.      Chairperson summarizes the procedures/rules to be followed during the hearing (reference the attached hearing guidelines, Attachment 1).


3.      The staff presents its report.


4.      Applicant presents the main points of the application.


5.      Persons speaking in support of the application are recognized.


6.      Persons speaking in opposition to the application are recognized.


7.      All further comments/questions are at the discretion of the Chairperson.


8.      Chairperson closes the public hearing and returns to the regular/special meeting.


9.      Township planner/engineer/other consultants present their report.


10.  Planning Commission begins deliberation and arrives at a decision which includes finding of fact (reference attached finding of fact guidelines, Attachment 2) and keeping of pertinent hearing records (reference attached hearing records guidelines, Attachment 3).



Duties of the Planning Commission:

The Planning Commission shall perform the following duties:


A.  Take such action on petitions, staff proposals, and township board requests for amendments to the zoning ordinance as required.


B.  Take such action on petitions, staff proposals, and township board requests for amendments to the master land use plan as required.


C.  Prepare an annual report to the township board.


D.  Prepare an annual work program and budget, to be included in the annual report.


E.  Take such actions as are required by the Michigan Planning Enabling Act, PA 33 of 2008, as amended.


F.  Review land use, subdivision, condominium and planning proposals and recommend appropriate actions to the township board.


G.  Prepare special studies, plans and zoning ordinances, as deemed necessary by the Planning Commission or township board and for which appropriations of funds have been approved by the township board, as needed.


H.  Attend training sessions, conferences or meetings as needed to properly fulfill the duties of Planning Commissioner and for which appropriations of funds have been approved by the township board, as needed.


I.  Perform other duties and responsibilities or respond as requested by any township board or Commission.


[Section 4 shall only apply at such time that the Elm River Township Board transfers through resolution the powers of Zoning to the Planning Commission]



Duties of the Zoning Administrator and Planning Consultant:


A.  The zoning administrator shall assist the Planning Commission and planning consultant in performing the Planning Commission’s duties, as noted in Section 3.


B.  The zoning administrator and planning consultant shall be responsible for the professional and administrative work in coordinating the functions of the Planning Commission.


C.  The zoning administrator shall:


1.      Supervise and review the work of the planning consultant and township staff (The Zoning Administrator and/or employees serving the Planning Commission and/or Zoning Administrator).


2.      Accept applications for matters to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and ensure that such applications are complete.


3.      Forward application materials to the Planning Commission at least one week prior to the meeting at which the matters will be considered.


4.      Inform the Planning Commission of administrative and enforcement actions taken on behalf of the township related to the zoning or other appropriate ordinance.


D.  The planning consultant shall:


1.      Attend Planning Commission meetings.


2.      Consult with the Planning Commission, zoning administrator and other township officials concerning interpretation, procedural questions, and other matters arising from the zoning ordinance.


3.      Prepare amendments to the zoning ordinance as directed by the Planning Commission.


4.      Prepare and forward to the zoning administrator written reviews and recommendations, If appropriate, for all requests and development proposals to be considered by the Planning Commission.


5.      Meet with applicants, their representatives, and/or township officials as needed to properly perform project reviews.


6.      Perform other duties as directed by the Planning Commission.


E.  Other professional may assist the Planning Commission or township staff as needed, including the building inspector, township attorney, township engineer or other person or agency.



Absences, Removals, Resignations, and Vacancies:


A.  To be excused, members of the Planning Commission shall notify the township supervisor, Planning Commission chairperson or other Planning Commission member when they intend to be absent from a meeting.  Failure to make this notification before the meeting shall result in an unexcused absence.


B.  The township supervisor may remove members of the Planning Commission after a hearing, with the approval of the township board.


C.  A member may resign from the Planning Commission by sending a letter of resignation to the township supervisor, township board or Planning Commission chairperson.


D.  Vacancies shall be filled by the township supervisor, with the approval of the township board, within one month of resignation or removal of a Planning Commission member.  Successors shall serve out the unexpired term of the member being replaced.



Conflict of Interest:


A.  Planning Commission members shall declare a conflict of interest and abstain from participating in a hearing or deliberations on a request when:


1.      A relative or other family member is involved in any request for which the Planning Commission is asked to make a decision.


2.      The Planning Commission member has a business or financial interest in the property involved in the request or has a business or financial interest in the applicant’s company, agency, or association;


3.      The Planning Commission member owns or has a financial interest in neighboring property.  For purposes of this section, a neighboring property shall include any property falling within the notification radius for the proposed development, as required by the zoning ordinance or other applicable ordinance, or;


4.      There is a reasonable appearance of a conflict of interest, as determined by the Planning Commission member declaring such conflict.


B.  The Planning Commission member declaring a conflict of interest should state the nature of the conflict and whether he or she believes he or she could impartially consider the request before the Commission.  He or she should individually decide to abstain from any discussion or votes relative to the matter that is the subject of the conflict.  (If he or she prefers, the member declaring a conflict may ask the other Planning Commission members to decide if he or she should abstain, although this is not required.  If this occurs, a vote of the Planning Commission members is taken with a majority vote ruling.)  The member declaring a conflict may absent him/herself from the room in which the discussion takes place, unless doing so would violate his or her constitutionally protected rights to participate.  He or she should not make any presentations to the Planning Commission as a representative of the proposal.


Section 7



These bylaws may be amended at any meeting by a vote of four members of the Planning Commission.  Adopted by the Elm River Township Planning Commission at the regular meeting on October 23, 2008.



Attachment 1


Hearing Procedure Guidelines


1.      The chairperson announces the subject of the public hearing, as advertised.


2.      The public hearing procedures are summarized for all present by the chairperson.

A suggested opening statement might be:

“This public hearing to receive public input on the following matter______________ in accordance with official notice is now open.  The Elm River Township (ERT) Planning Commission would like to make clear that rules and laws when making a decision on this application bind it.  In order to conduct the hearing within a reasonable time and to keep to the subject at hand, you are asked to observe the following rules:


·        After the staff presentation, the applicant will state his/her case fully and furnish us with pertinent information concerning the property.


·        Those who favor the proposed change will be heard next, and those who are opposed will be heard last.


·        Each person making a statement will be asked to state his or her name and address.


·        Please refrain from repeating what has been said before you, and please do not make comments on personalities or the character of any person involved.


·        Be as factual as possible.


·        We, the ERT Planning Commission, reserve the right to question any speaker.


·        All statements or questions must be directed to me (the chairperson) at the appropriate time.


·        We, the ERT Planning Commission, may or may not make a decision on this matter at today’s meeting following the close of the hearing.”


3.      The staff is then asked to present the substance of the application and of any staff reports and to answer technical questions of the hearing body.


4.      The chairperson beginning with the applicant(s) or their representative(s) recognizes individuals wishing to speak in support of the subject of the hearing.


5.      The chairperson next recognizes individuals wishing to speak in opposition to the subject of the hearing.  If there are numerous people in the audience who would like to participate on the issue, and it is known that all represent the same opinion, it is advised that a spokesperson be selected to speak for the entire group. That person should be permitted to speak for a reasonable length of time and to present a complete case.  If this arrangement cannot be made, it may be necessary for the chairperson to restrict each speaker to a limited time in order that all may be heard.  If this is done, it must be according to previously adopted rules.  The hearing body must permit comments from all interested or affected individuals and organizations (regardless of where they live or are located—even if it is outside the community), and it should be stressed that consideration will be given to all comments or suggestions made.  Quickly and forcefully, irrelevant and off-the-subject comments should be ruled out of order by the chairperson.


6.      Within reasonable limits, the chairperson may, allow questions, cross-examination, or rebuttal.  All comments should be addressed to the subject of the hearing through the chairperson and not be stated directly to any other individuals.  The hearing body should refrain from debating or arguing with persons commenting.  However, they should ask any pertinent questions at this point.  The function of the hearing is to gather facts—not to carry on an adversarial relationship.


7.      Upon his/her motion or the motion of any member, the chairperson should announce the close of the public portion of the hearing.  Alternatively, the chairperson may announce the continuation of the public hearing to another specified date; time and place if the hour is late or additional pertinent information must be obtained.


8.      The hearing body then deliberates on the matter.  All deliberations must be conducted in an open public.



Attachment 2


Fact Finding and Deliberation Guidelines


1.      Deliberation typically revolves around fact-finding before a motion is made.  Facts are nothing more than information that is pertinent to making a decision.  Important sources of facts include:

·        The application

·        Ordinance requirements

·        Physical characteristics of the lot and adjacent parcels

·        Staff reports and agency reports regarding impacts on:


2.      Public services


3.      Natural resources


4.      Character of area


5.      Streets, parking and traffic

·        Input from neighbors.

Attachment 3


Hearing Records Guidelines


1.      A complete record of the hearing will typically contain the following:

·        The applicant’s request on a properly completed form.

·        The records of any action on this request by an administrative official or body including all past records regarding the property (such as an earlier request for variance, special land use approval, or a record of nonconforming status).

·        Records that verify due notice to the appropriate parties and to neighboring property owners has been given.  Any newspaper notice and the affidavit of publishing thereof must also be retained.

·        Any relevant maps, drawings, or photographs presented as evidence, or as a part of the application.

·        Copies of any correspondence received or sent out with regard to this request.

·        A complete record of all public input made at the hearing.

·        A record of what the hearing body saw on any visit it made to the property in question and a summary of any conversations between the hearing body and parties with an interest in the application.  (Such a visit must be advertised under the Open Meetings Act and any interested persons must be allowed to attend).

·        A copy of references to relevant ordinance requirements.

·        The findings of fact, the conclusions reached and the recommendation or decision made on the request by the hearing body.

·        A copy of any other correspondence to or from the petitioner regarding the decision.