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Information is Power
Photo: Emin Ozkan
Have you ever thought of serving on the planning or zoning board for your neighborhood or municipality? Perhaps the technical jargon, legal details and bureaucratic procedures were a put-off. Or, maybe you’ve just been trying to figure out how to steer through all the red tape to simply install a swimming pool or replace an old porch.

Some training could be empowering! Information is power in this “information age.” For years Michigan State University has offered classes designed to train citizen volunteers to serve on local land-use planning bodies. Now the university is providing the same training over the Internet, so it can be accessible to anyone!

"Citizen Planner Online" was developed in response to the growing demand for easily accessible and convenient learning opportunities. The online course was made possible through grants from People and Land and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This course is intended for local appointed and elected officials, as well as interested citizens.

Specific laws differ from county to county and state to state, but the general principles and procedures are very similar across the country. Registration is available online. You can choose to take any combination of modules and units. Once you register, you have six weeks to complete the module you register for. Each module will take about five to eight hours of reading time and responding to questions in order to complete. Each unit (within a module) takes one or two hours to complete.

To look over the outline for each module and to register, visit Citizen Planner Online.

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By Monte Sahlin. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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