The LEADERSHIP AWARDS honor outstanding commissioners, non-planners and professional planners in the following categories:
- Planning Advocate
- Leadership Award for Professional Planner
- Outstanding Community Administrator's Award
- Helen S. Willis Outstanding Commissioner Award
- Planning Champion Award
The deadline for leadership award nominations is May 10, 2024. Leadership Nomination Form and Information here.
The EXCELLENCE AWARDS honor outstanding plans, projects or initiatives in several categories:
- Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan
- Advancing Diversity and Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff
- Best Practice
- Economic Development
- Grassroots Initiative
- Public Outreach
- Resiliency and Sustainability
- Transportation Planning
- Urban Design
All excellence award categories hew closely to the national award categories for ease in nominating a MAP award winner to the national level.
The deadline for excellence award nominations is May 3, 2024. Project Excellence Nomination Form and Information here.
The STUDENT AWARDS honor outstanding student projects in two categories:
- Graduate Student Project
- Undergraduate Student Project
The deadline for student award nominations is May 10, 2024. Student Award Nomination Form and Information here.
2023 Award Recipients
Award Nominations 2023
City of Albion Comprehensive Plan
City of Albion and Beckett and Raeder, Inc.
Over several years, Albion has made a concerted effort to be more transparent, predictable, and efficient by engaging in future-oriented endeavors, such as becoming certified with Redevelopment Ready Communities© program, updating its zoning ordinance, and adopting a new comprehensive plan. As part of a robust engagement, Albion College students were asked to “design” a city which captured two different land use scenarios: 1) designing their “dream” city where they would like to live, and 2) redesigning their “dream” city based on a list of constraints. The relationship between denser neighborhoods and more open/public space was a clear preference and an important takeaway in developing the Future Land Use Map. Jurors said, "The plan was easy to read and contained communicative graphics." Congratulations to the City of Albion and Beckett and Raeder!
City of Ferndale and SmithGroup
Plan Ferndale rethought the traditional process of Master Plan development by incorporating a Climate Action Plan with a Parks and Recreation Plan. The City set out to update their master plan with a renewed focus on comprehensive community equity, resiliency, and inclusivity. The plan process included a robust set of conversations with a variety of stakeholders. These discussions focused on topics around recent redevelopment and the future of growth, scale, character, and density to create clear and implementable strategies within the context of a changing climate. Plan Ferndale focused on fostering trust in local government, creating a sense of shared authorship and ownership in the future of the city. Jurors said, "There were a number of terrific graphics that communicated better than words!" MAP congratulates the City of Ferndale and SmithGroup!
City of Rockford Master Plan
City of Rockford and Williams & Works
The Master Plan is written as a declaration of the community's values, priorities, and culture. This is reflected in the graphical presentation, but also in the chapter titles, which are statements of not just the plan's contents, but who the community is and what it will become. The plan lays out an ambitious path to improve not only land use policies and practices, but also strategies to combat climate change, advance citywide administrative practices, and continue to foster a vibrant culture and identity. The public engagement efforts were thoughtful, fun, but most importantly, effective. Jurors said, "The graphics and overall design of the document seemed to be more of a story than a report." Congratulations to the City of Rockford and Williams & Works!
The Barry County 2040 "Live Better" Master Plan
Barry County, McKenna, and Harvey Consulting
The plan includes robust market analysis for housing, retail, and industrial space, with the calculations culminating in the acreage of land that should be set aside in each category. The County Framework is a less detailed version of the Future Land Use Map, combining Future Land Use categories into the broad visions of “Preserve”, “Enhance”, and “Grow” that more clearly express the overall intent of the Plan, and help the county planning commission make zoning decisions with both local character and regional goals in mind. Jurors said, "Due to the County’s proximity to several major job centers, it was important for the County to respond to the needs of a growing population and economy while also planning for the preservation of its natural assets, rural character, and agricultural systems." MAP congratulates Barry County, McKenna, and Harvey Consulting!
Eastpointe Zoning Ordinance Update and Steering Committee Workbooks
City of Eastpointe and McKenna
Seven workbooks recontextualized urban planning topics such as missing middle housing, height density, flexible land use, nonconformities and façade materials. Different learning activities, acted as an ice breaker so that a higher level of conversation around the urban planning topic became possible. Some of the activities included: Existing Ordinance Challenges: Pain Points Survey; Mixed-Use and Use Diversity: Land Use BINGO; and Façade Materials: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Jurors said, "We were particularly impressed with the engagement with the general public at the Gratiot Cruise Public Participation Booth, as zoning ordinance updates would not typically be something the public would find engaging." Congratulations to the City of Eastpointe and McKenna!
Viva La Avenida Area Specific Plan
City of Grand Rapids, Williams & Works, Aligned Planning, and Nederveld
Since its adoption, the Area Specific Plan has resulted in a wide range of implementation efforts, including updates to the city’s zoning Oordinance to protect existing homes and encourage redevelopment with missing middle housing at key transit nodes, the transition of Cesar E. Chavez Avenue from a MDOT business route to a city street, and major multi-modal road reconstructions with enhanced streetscapes. Jurors said, "The best part of the plan was that the encroaching development pressure was recognized in time to proactively ensure that the future investment reflected the needs and wishes of the community members already in the neighborhood; this allowed the implementation to occur in a way that is equitable and desired by the community." Congratulations to the City of Grand Rapids, Williams & Works, Aligned Planning, and Nederveld!
Greater Corktown Neighborhood Planning Framework Plan
City of Detroit and Perkins & Will
The Greater Corktown Neighborhood Framework Plan set forth a vision and action plan that promotes inclusive growth of Detroit’s oldest established neighborhood while preserving the community’s unique character. Since its adoption, the Framework Plan has resulted in multiple projects including: the city redesigning and redevelopment of Roosevelt Park, the conversion of 14th Street from one-way to two-way traffic, and a full city block of vacant, publicly-owned land being transformed into a $10 million community empowerment center with an early childhood education center. Jurors said, "What put this implementation effort into the category of outstanding vs. just a good effort was that it laid the groundwork for the city to work to mitigate the gentrification that has come with that private and public investment." Congratulations to the City of Detroit and Perkins & Will!
MEDC Redevelopment Ready Communities Resilience Toolkit
Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and SmithGroup
Planning can be a heavy lift for communities with limited staff and resources. The RRC Resilience Toolkit includes a self-evaluation and set of goals, metrics, and actions that communities can use to incorporate resilient strategies into their next plan, policy, or assessment. It also focuses on helping often overwhelmed communities expand capacity by focusing on partnerships and implementation with a series of strategies to identify shovel-ready projects and funding opportunities. Jurors said, "This is the first significant effort by a State agency to congregate those approaches to establish a replicable approach that is both indicative of the current cultural and political expectations and calls for in-depth public engagement for a result that is specific to a community or project." MAP congratulates MEDC and SmithGroup!
Greenmead Historical Park Master Plan
City of Livonia and Wade Trim
Greenmead Historical Park, operated by the City of Livonia, includes the nearly 200-year-old Greenmead Farm, a historical village of relocated buildings, community gardens, a nature trail, and soccer fields. The balance of preserving history and drawing visitors is always a design dilemma. The challenge was how bring all of the assets together to create a place people want to visit time and again. The phased approach prioritizes early development of the centralized plaza. The plan also includes space for concerts, a pavilion for gatherings and winter ice-skating, a petting zoo, a playground, re-creation of some historic features, and an interpretive center. Jurors said, "Fiscal prioritization is helpful with implementation. Assigning responsibilities to certain groups or individuals enables accountability." Congratulations to the City of Livonia and Wade Trim!
Preserving Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing in Detroit: A Case Study of Oakman Boulevard Community along the Joe Louis Greenway
University of Michigan
Urban and Regional Planning Program
This capstone project provided one of the first assessments of the Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) property dynamics in a neighborhood along the Joe Louis Greenway (JLG) in Detroit. NOAH properties are market housing whose rents happen to be affordable to low- and moderate-income households. In a country where government subsidized affordable housing is in short supply, preserving NOAH properties is critical in mitigating the housing affordability crisis and preventing resident displacement. Working with the City of Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department, this capstone project examines NOAH preservation issues in the Oakman Boulevard Community neighborhood located along the city’s proposed JLG. Students conducted extensive property and policy research as well as community-engagement activities to assess the risks that small multi-family NOAH properties face and develop recommendations to preserve them. MAP congratulates students Alexis Marie Farrell, Anthony Phan Bui, Christian Carroll, David Kevin Elam, Nicholas Robert Hill, Maria Garcia Reyna, Maya Joy Gingerich Baker, Michelle Marin, Melika Belhaj, Tianhong Ge, Yifei Sun and instructors Lan Deng and Rand Makarem!
Ryan Kilpatrick, AICP
Owner of Flywheel Community Development Consultant
Ryan has prioritized collaboration and provided direction to community leaders as they navigate a critical shortage of housing. Joshua Lunger of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce said, "Ryan Kilpatrick was one of the foremost subject matter experts helping craft the legislation signed by Governor Whitmer that provided new tools for local governments to support workforce housing. His working knowledge in drafting the legislation helped assure that the final product is practical and effective for both developers and communities in meeting this clear need." The jury said: "Ryan is a passionate leader and clear choice for the Planning Advocate Award. His education, experience, and contributions through Housing Next and the development of MAP's Zoning Reform Toolkit has increased understanding and awareness of planning statewide." MAP congratulates Ryan Kilpatrick and thanks him for his planning leadership in Michigan.
Community Development Manager, City of Dexter
As Community Development Manager to the City of Dexter, Ms. Aniol has increased the understanding of planning principles and the planning process by combining planning and economic development in her practice, rather than excluding one from the other. She has articulated to elected and appointed officials as well as developers how good design, building up instead of out, and connections to regional park and trail systems strengthen the economic vibrancy of the City. As an appointed official in the City of Northville, Ms. Aniol has brought the same level of planning savvy and detail. On the Zoning Board of Appeals, she has been a careful, thoughtful Board member who brings a welcome lens to each case. As a resident, Ms. Aniol has consistently advocated for planning principles, even when in the minority. Congratulations to Michelle Aniol! MAP thanks her for her planning leadership in Michigan.
Chief Planner/Deputy Director, Northeast Michigan Council of Governments
Denise is well known and respected among many communities within northern Michigan for having created user-friendly zoning ordinances. She facilitates an exhaustive discussion with each planning commission regarding their goals. Based on their master plan, she guides planning commissioners through a thorough update of their zoning ordinance. The final product is an easier to understand ordinance for both the planning commission and the public. She has done extensive research to include the most recent updates such as solar installations, legal updates that reflect court precedents, and trends. The jury said, "Denise stands out as a true Planning Champion for her support and thorough understanding of the needs of planners and communities throughout Northern Michigan. Many communities lack the resources necessary to develop plans and zoning ordinances that are effective and easy to administer." MAP congratulates Denise Cline and thanks her for her planning leadership in Michigan.
Planning Commission Chair, City of Northville
Donna Tinberg was appointed to the Northville Planning Commission in 2017. In 2018, she became the Planning Commission liaison to the Zoning Board of Appeals. And she has served as chair of the Planning Commission since 2021. By the numbers, Donna has attended over 110 planning commission meetings, approximately 40 development proposals, 30 ordinance amendments, and 2 master plan updates; with her ZBA hat, she has reviewed 47 ZBA cases, and attended 33 ZBA meetings. She adheres to and advocates for the following principles: resident input, predictability in the planning process, adherence to state and municipal law. She has been a champion of missing middle housing and walkability. Colleague Andew Krenz said of Donna, "She is a dedicated servant to her neighbors and community that is motivated by dispassionate application of Ordinance and precedent in the spirit of providing substantial justice, even when the right decision can be unpopular, no matter the scale of what’s in front of her." MAP congratulates Planning Commission Chair Tinberg and thanks her for her planning leadership in Michigan!
Supervisor, Oceola Township
William “Bill” Bamber served as the Supervisor of Oceola Township for 27 years before his retirement in 2023. Throughout his time as an elected official, Bill was a strong advocate for planning – and for the implementation of plans. Under Supervisor Bamber’s leadership, Oceola Township developed a robust zoning administration system and a strong culture of planning. Bill ensured that the Township would be well-staffed, with a full time zoning administrator and a planning consultant. Bill also recruited strong planning commissioners and zoning board of appeals members, and nutured their sense of duty so that appointees stayed in their positions and put in time outside of meetings. Planning commissioner Timothy Weir wrote, "Mr. Bamber keeps politics, which many townships succumb to, out of all decisions and truly does what is best for the community. His vision has created a nice balance of growth while maintaining the rural characteristics of the township." Congratulations to Supervisor Bamber! MAP thanks him for his planning leadership in Michigan.
Supervisor, Sharon Township
Mr. Psarouthakis has been the Supervisor of Sharon Township since 2012 and has recently stepped down from this role. For this rural community in western Washtenaw County with less than 2,000 residents, Mr. Psarouthakis was the highest elected official and the Township’s de facto manager. In his role, he promptly advocated for code updates, due to changes in state law and case law when many other similar municipalities have been resistant. Following the Reed v. Gilbert decision, he asked for the sign regulations to be updated. He also facilitated a contentious process to allow marijuana growing and processing facilities in Township. Barb Fuller, chair of the Washtenaw County Road Commission and chair of the Washtenaw County Broadband Task Force, said, "Among the many initiatives that Peter accomplished was a having a split-phase traffic signal placed at the intersection of M-52 and Pleasant Lake Road. As a 2-way stop, that intersection was deadly. Peter latched on to MDOT and did not let go until the signal was deployed. It has saved an untold number of lives and prevented tragic traffic accidents." MAP congratulates Peter Psarouthakis and thanks him for his planning leadership in Michigan.
2022 Award Recipients
Award Nominations 2022
City of East Jordan Master Plan
City of East Jordan and Beckett and Raeder, Inc.
This master planning process placed a special emphasis on developing realizable visions for three priority redevelopment sites: the former East Jordan Foundry, the city-owned Community Center downtown, and a former boat launch site. Evocative renderings throughout the plan illustrate the city's vision. Relying on descriptions of land uses, setbacks, and photographic architectural styles do not have the same impact or generate the same level of enthusiasm as a visual representation. Jurors said, "Unique discussions on natural resources, broadband access, tree cover, and impervious surfaces were well detailed and supported with data and case studies." Congratulations to the City of East Jordan and Beckett and Raeder! Click here to watch the award presentation.
Holland Unified Development Ordinance
City of Holland and McKenna
The Unified Development Ordinance includes a number of innovative features that advance, best practices in zoning and other development regulations: a user guide, to make navigating the document easier for everyone; no commercial districts; instead mixed use districts allow for much-needed housing; unique situations, such as historic neighborhoods, the airport, and the waterfront, are taken into account; and both policies and regulations regarding street design are included in order to more clearly tie the public realm to the private realm. Jurors said, "The UDO is dense, but easily navigable and written to be accessible by residents or developers; the "how to" guide was great - more codes need this. The regulations are directly linked to policies adopted by the community." MAP congratulates the City of Holland and McKenna! Click here to watch the award presentation.
Macomb Township Master Plan - MTC
Macomb Township and Carlisle | Wortman Associates, Inc.
The Macomb Town Center (MTC) is an emerging mixed-use development that aims to serve as a "downtown". This plan started as a vision in the late 1990s. In 2001, to spur development, Macomb Township built its township hall, recreation center here. In 2020, the MTC became the focal point of a much larger land use vision. Through virtual work sessions, the township's planning department convinced elected officials, developers, property owners and residents of the importance to continue the original MTC vision. Conversely, public comments and questions regarding preferences gave the staff insight, which required some rethinking. As staff presented facts and information, attitudes improved, and interest reenergized. Support was received from elected officials, residents and developers alike. Due to collaboration and renewed vigor, the MTC now has roughly 1,000 residential units either built or being built and thousands more that are in the planning and engineering process. Jurors said, "It seems that forward-minded thinking in the 1990s set the foundation for future efforts in the Cultivate Macomb! Master Plan and Town Center vision." Congratulations to the Macomb Township and Carlisle | Wortman Associates, Inc.! Click here to watch the award presentation.
The City of Sterling Heights Sustainability Plan
City of Sterling Heights
The City of Sterling Heights Sustainability Plan aims to implement over fifty local initiatives, to ensure that the city regularly operates in a manner that does not deplete resources for future generations. The plan’s foundation is the 17 United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and each section highlights the pertinent SDG’s applicable to that portion of the plan. Jurors said, "We found the topic areas to be highly specific to Sterling Heights including a deep dive into opportunities and challenges within the context of the community; further we appreciated the focus on avoid flooding issues by being proactive and purchasing flood prone parcels prior to these properties being developed." MAP congratulates the City of Sterling Heights! Click here to watch the award presentation.
Lake Center District Corridor and Placemaking Study
City of Portage
The Lake Center District’s unique characteristics, environmental resources, and diversity of stakeholders make it a special place in the City of Portage. The plan tackles Portage Road’s challenges, opportunities, and illustrates the trade-offs that occur with the public right-of-way and puts forth recommendations to rebalance the right-of-way to support more diverse multimodal uses. Extensive community engagement over the 18-month project, conducted before the pandemic, and during the pandemic by utilizing digital tools and outdoor workshops to provide safe participation. A phased implementation plan for achieving goals provides a practical blueprint and the City has already completed the majority of the Year 1 Action Plan. Jurors said, "We were impressed to see significant capital funds allocated in first year for projects." Congratulations to the City of Portage! Click here to watch the award presentation.
After the Deluge Capstone Project
University of Michigan
Urban and Regional Planning Program
Through a collaboration with the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC), the students proposed, tested, and validated emerging approaches to analyzing digital data, including satellite imagery, social media, and crowdsourced sources, to aid in recovery prioritization. The project used the contemporaneous recovery planning efforts of government, non-profits, and community groups after Hurricane Ida as a case study to test and evaluate these technologies. Through interviews with residents, professionals, government officials, and advocates in St. Charles, Jefferson, and Lafourche Parishes, Louisiana, the students adopted a “Whole of Society” perspective on recovery planning and technology development. MAP congratulates students (Hannah Boettcher, Jane Dixon, Kiley Fitzgerald, Elise Grongstad, Jon Haadsma, Laura Melendez, Jeffrey Pritchard, Danielle Stewart, Robert Svoboda ) and faculty (Anthony Vanky and Meixin Yuan)!
Watch the award program video here.
Evaluating Funding for Public Transit to Advance Michigan’s Climate Goals
University of Michigan
Urban and Regional Planning Program
Transportation Riders United (TRU), a nonprofit organization that advocates for public transit in the Detroit region, requested this project from the U-M to help them shape how Michigan addresses climate change by leveraging funding to improve public transit so that Michiganders have a viable option to shift away from single-occupancy driving. TRU wanted this question answered: What are the impediments that hold back state funding for public transit and undermine Michigan's climate action plan? The project included reviewing legislative and administrative documents, analyzing financial and performance data, interviewing 16 stakeholders and experts, and conducting in-depth comparative case studies of four peer states. MAP congratulates students (Shanea Condon, Andrew Darvin, Paul Jones III, Catherine Kemp, Camilla Lizundia, Christopher Moon-Miklaucic, Simon Rivers, Sydney Weisman, Arin Yu), faculty Joe Grengs, and teaching assistant Eric Bettis!
Watch the award program video here.
Planning Commission Chair, City of St. Ignace
Betsy Dayrell-Hart's passion for tackling issues is infectious and heartfelt. From fighting to expand housing options in the city for long term and seasonal employees, to attempting to broker a compromise on food trucks in the downtown and helping rewrite the city’s master plan, Betsy is inquisitive, persistent, humble, and collaborative. When times get tough in these initiatives – which always happens – she manages to keep the long-term picture in mind. Rebecca Bolen, formerly a planner with Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Development Commission, said, "Betsy's leadership and collaboration with others led to the completion of other key projects, including the completion of a public participation plan [and] developing the City’s first capital improvement plan. Betsy truly values St. Ignace’s heritage, and champions the role that its residents have in building the City’s future through the planning process." MAP congratulates Chairperson Dayrell-Hart and thanks her for her planning leadership in Michigan.
Watch the award program video here.
Planning Commission Chair, Pittsfield Charter Township
A champion for planning, Mr. Payne has provided a pro-planning and extensive planning understanding to the Township and has shown a commitment to support the planning of his community through chairing over 400 Planning Commission and other related meetings in his 13 years as Planning Commission Chair. Mr. Payne has shown enthusiasm, understanding of smart land use principles, and constant advocacy of planning in Pittsfield Township. Township Supervisor, Mandy Grewal, writes, "Matt has not just been a steadfast and logical voice of reason on the Planning Commission but he has Chaired and led the Commission through one of the most transformative periods in Pittsfield Township’s history. I would add that his humility and humor (even and especially during periods of conflict) round him off as the perfect Planning Commissioner. He never loses sight of the big picture (promoting equity and sustainability) while, simultaneously, detailing the minute details essential to healthy planning outcomes." Congratulation to Chairperson Payne! MAP thanks him for his planning leadership in Michigan.
Watch the award program video here.
Community Development Director, City of Marquette
Dennis saw the City of Marquette's potential and worked with the planning commission to coordinate Marquette’s 2002 landmark master plan that envisioned Marquette as A premier livable, walkable, winter city. Few would disagree that 20 years later this vision has been achieved. Throughout his tenure with the city, Dennis can see and understand various community issues and perspectives and can frame ideas in ways that bring people together with effective results. In short, Dennis uses his interpersonal skills to build social capital and mobilize human and financial resources. He has done this effectively time and time again across a diverse set of contributors within local government, state government departments, and private development sectors. Under his leadership, the city planning department has doubled in size, hiring another professional planner and separate dedicated zoning official. Jim Tischler, FAICP of Michigan's Land Bank Authority, wrote, "Dennis’ work has garnered statewide attention and been useful as tangible demonstration, not only for Marquette, but as example for the present-day project work across the entire Upper Peninsula." Congratulations to Community Development Director Stachewicz! MAP thanks him for his planning leadership in Michigan.
Watch the award program video here.
Christopher Germain, AICP
Chief Executive Officer, Lake Superior Community Partnership
This prestigious award was established in 2004 to recognize individuals whose contributions to MAP go above and beyond the call of duty. Honorees are selected by MAP staff to acknowledge that the work of MAP is conducted through the contributions of our elite members.
As an early leader of MAPs Emerging Planning Professional Committee, Christopher Germain served as vice-chair and chair, piloted its mentoring program and member survey, and recruited speakers for EPP professional development talks. And as one of the first AICP planners on the MEDC RRC staff, Christopher was a strong advocate for MAP and for the principles of best planning practices to both your colleagues and municipalities across the state. His contagious optimism is an asset to the planning profession, and to communities throughout Michigan large and small. The State of Michigan and the MAP organization are better because Christopher is involved.
Watch the award program video here.