Zoning for Community Transformation in Flint, Michigan

Zoning Practice — May 2016

By John Houseal, FAICP, Brandon Nolin, AICP


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Despite the story of Flint, Michigan, being a city of decline and hopelessness — made infamous in Michael Moore's Roger and Me and in the headlines for its water crisis — the city is using zoning to transform itself in a manner reflective of the community's new vision for the future. Flint is reinventing itself by building upon the foundation of the Imagine Flint master plan, the city's first comprehensive plan in more than 50 years, and implementing an entirely new zoning ordinance rooted in the plan's placebased approach.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses the innovative zoning techniques Flint, Michigan, is using to implement the place-based vision for community transformation outlined in the city's comprehensive plan. It covers standards for green neighborhoods, centers and corridors, and green innovation districts.


Page Count
Date Published
May 1, 2016
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

John Houseal, FAICP

Brandon Nolin, AICP
<p>Brandon is a Senior Project Manager at Houseal Lavigne Associates with 14 years of planning, urban design, and market analysis experience. Brandon specializes in comprehensive planning and economic development and uses his background in archaeology, statistics, and market research to develop data-driven plans that are both physically achievable and economically viable. Brandon has worked in communities of all shapes and sizes. He has created award-winning plans to reposition disinvested communities like Flint, MI and North Lawndale on Chicago&rsquo;s west side; leverage key redevelopment opportunities in growing downtowns; revitalize aging commercial corridors in inner ring suburbs; and strengthen small rural towns and emerging suburban communities. Brandon is also actively involved in furthering the planning profession. He co-founded a young planners organization and serves on the board of the American Planning Association&rsquo;s Chicago Metro Section. Brandon has a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from Michigan State University and two graduate degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago: a Master&rsquo;s in Urban Planning and Policy and a Master&rsquo;s in Urban and Environmental Geography.</p>