Citizen planner program logo.
The Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Citizen Planner Program offers land use education for locally appointed and elected planning officials, zoning administrators and interested residents throughout Michigan.

Citizen Planner is a time-tested educational program proven to be comprehensive without being overwhelming. The program is delivered locally to provide a convenient way for busy community leaders to obtain the latest technical knowledge and the proficiency they need to perform their duties more effectively and responsibly. 

Local officials have a responsibility to help their communities manage the impacts of economic change and be part of the solutions to challenges their communities face. Local communities that proactively plan to succeed in the New Economy can improve their quality of life and overall sustainability. The Citizen Planner program empowers local officials to shape the future of their communities by providing them with the tools and education they need to lead.

Citizen Planner instructors include MSU Faculty, MSU Extension educators, planners and attorneys. The classroom program consists of six sessions:

  1. Understanding the Planning and Zoning Context: Learn the legal sources and limitations of planning and zoning authority, and explore your understanding of ethical decision-making.
  2. Planning for the Future of Your Community: Recognize the function and importance of a master plan, know the process for developing one and its relationship to zoning.
  3. Implementing the Plan with Zoning: Discover the importance of zoning, learn how zoning is administered and gain confidence in your zoning reviews, including site plans. 
  4. Making Zoning Decisions: Learn how to adopt and amend a zoning ordinance, understand the role of the zoning board of appeals and obtain skills in basic property development methods.
  5. Using Innovative Planning and Zoning: Strategize with placemaking and design-based solutions for local and regional success in the New Economy.
  6. Successfully Fulfilling Your Role: Strengthen your ethical decision-making skills, apply standards to your decision-making and know when to ask for help.

MSU Extension awards Citizen Planner program participants a certificate of completion. Participants who complete the Citizen Planner Classroom program are eligible to earn the Master Citizen Planner (MCP) credential. In addition to completing the course, the MCP credential requires passing an online exam and capstone presentation, and meeting annual continuing education requirements. Master Citizen Planners may receive incentives, such as future course discounts, exclusive training opportunities, and scholarships for annual conferences and regional training offered by partnering organizations. The MCP designation is an achievement recognized as the standard of excellence among planning officials and community leaders in Michigan.

The Kent County Citizen Planner program will be held on Wednesday evenings, 6 - 9 p.m. beginning April 18 through May 30, 2018. There will be NO CLASS on MAY 9, 2018. Class will be held in the E-3 Training Center (2nd Floor), 201 Market Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

This program will be an introduction of the newly revised and updated curriculum for this premier program being offered at a special fee of $250 per person and $220 per person for groups of nine (9) or more from the same local unit of government. For more class details download the attached flyer.

This Citizen Planner Program is in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids Planning Department.

Scholarships may be available from your community’s liability insurance provider. Michigan Township Participating Plan offers to its municipal members one per community, which covers the complete registration reimbursement for completion of the Citizen Planner program. Contact Rita Evans at 800-783-1370 for more information. For member governments of the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA), contact Cara Kowal at 800-243-1324 for more information regarding grants for education and training through the Risk Avoidance Program (RAP). For municipalities obtaining insurance through Nichel & Saph, Inc. Insurance Agency contact Stephen R. Saph, Jr. at 586-463-4573 or Contact your local community liability risk insurance carrier to see if similar grants or scholarships are available.

Registrations cancelled on or after April 11, 2018 will be assessed a $45 cancellation fee.

Download Event Flyer

Individual Registration

Please select this option if you are registering only one person.

Registration for Citizen Planner Kent County is open.
Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on April 11, 2018.

Group Registration

Select this option if you are registering at least nine (9) participants from one local government unit.

Registration for Citizen Planner Kent County is open.
Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on April 11, 2018.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For more information, contact Janean Danca, Citizen Planner Coordinator at 269-657-8213, or