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  • Roles and Functions of the Zoning Board of Appeals: Decision-making & Documentation (Part 3)

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    As Part 3 of this series, this segment provides the “know-how” and tips that will help you make effective decisions when serving on the ZBA, from site visits to public hearings, deliberation, motions and your roles on the board.

    The zoning board of appeals was created as a “safety valve,” in recognition that the zoning ordinance is not able to anticipate how every property might be affected by zoning. With thousands of individual properties, a single zoning regulation cannot possibly be applied uniformly to every property's unique physical characteristics. Learn how the ZBA serves as a safety valve in circumstances where zoning requirements don't fit. Explore how variances approved without sufficient justification can turn the safety valve into a leak, and a leak into a flood.

    This third and final segment in our three-part series provides the “know-how” and tips that will help you make effective decisions when serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals. In addition to examining the intricacies of site visits, public hearings and deliberation, this session also identifies what must be included in motions. Your role in the process and standards to help focus your preparation efforts are also incorporated into this session.

    NOTE: To get the most of out of this series, MTA recommends that you participate in part one The Basics and part two  Variances prior to participating part three Decision-making & Documentation

    Thank you to Michigan Township Participating Plan for helping to underwrite the cost of this program. For more information, visit

    Steve Langworthy

    Director of Land Use & Long Range Planning, Dublin, Ohio

    Steve Langworth received a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan and spent 6 years as a planning director and zoning administrator for the city of Kentwood, Michigan (among others), and over 20 years as a consulting planner, most recently with LSL Planning in Grand Rapids.

    Steve has authored numerous Master Plans, Zoning Ordinances, and special studies for communities of all sizes and characteristics. He is a frequent MTA presenter and the principal author of MTA’s Township Guide to Planning and Zoning and Township Planning & Zoning Decision-making Handbook.