2020 Award Recipients

Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan

Ypsilanti Township 2040 Master Plan

Charter Township of Ypsilanti and Carlisle | Wortman Associates 

The Ypsilanti Township 2040 Master Plan process used best practices in planning customized to the Township’s unique circumstances. Township leaders asked that the process be inclusionary and extensive. Based on community feedback and discussions, the Master Plan sets forth five catalyst projects that the Township plans to begin in the next five years. Two of the projects are especially noteworthy: The Healthy Neighborhood Program uses a healthy equity approach, targeting neighborhoods in Ypsilanti Township with the some of the highest mortality and morbidity rates in Washtenaw County and The Open Space and Agriculture Preservation project aims to reverse the decades-old trend of suburbanization of the southern part of the Township. Jurors said, "Ypsilanti succeeded in creating a "group achievement."  The plan used a process which fit the community, and was strategic in bringing in specific goals around social justice and neighborhood level action items unique to the community."  Congratulations to the Charter Township of Ypsilanti and Carlisle | Wortman Associates!

Master Plan workshop in Ypsilanti Township

Outstanding Planning Project:  Environmental Planning

City of Kalamazoo's Natural Features Protection Overlay District
City of Kalamazoo

In 2017 the City of Kalamazoo updated the Master Plan and citizens made clear their desire for protection and preservation of natural features. Through robust engagement and an ad hoc advisory committee of local environmental professionals, Kalamazoo drafted and approved a Natural Features Protection overlay district in 2019. The ordinance was developed to allow use and development of any property within the district for its zoned purpose, but requires special consideration and design around existing natural features for protection both during and after construction. Jurors said, "Creating various stakeholder groups was a thoughtful way to incorporate public participation without causing engagement fatigue. The overlay was thoughtfully combined with existing zoning regulations, and integrating overlays is often difficult to do well."  MAP congratulates the City of Kalamazoo!  

Kalamazoo Natural Protection Engagement Event

Outstanding Planning Project: Public Outreach

FAIR Play Coalition

Huron Clinton Metroparks

In 2019, an advisory committee of volunteers and Metroparks staff was created to assist the Metroparks in fulfilling its commitment to planning new projects that are ADA compliant and meet universal design principles. The FAIR Play coalition (Fun, Accessible, Inclusive Recreation) members are advocates for accessibility and being inclusive to emotional,cognitive, and physical disabilities. While the Metroparks has engaged many of these stakeholders in the past, involvement had been one-on-one instead of together. The value in building a coalition is the strength of the overall group. Stakeholders bring different experience, perspectives, and knowledge to the planning process. Furthermore, the coalition meetings allow for discussion and collaboration to result in the best possible projects.  Jurors said, "Strong and effective approach to engage underserved populations in an integrated way – from start to finish of the project. Significant as a model for planners to reach a higher bar with respect to inclusion."  Congratulations to Huron-Clinton Metroparks and its partner, Arc of Livingston County!

Accessible playground



Outstanding Planning Project: Public Outreach

Sturgis Master Plan

City of Sturgis and Beckett and Raeder

When updating its Master Plan, the City of Sturgis embarked on an ambitious and many-pronged public outreach program to inform it. The City’s demographics had changed markedly over the last decade, and there was consensus that a more thorough approach was needed to reach often underrepresented groups. The diverse methods included a survey that was available in both English and Spanish; a shorter “intercept” survey conducted at the City’s most popular summer event; two programs at the local high school; stakeholder sessions focused on housing, employment, and “livability” and recreation; and a traditional in-person visioning session..Jurors said, "High level of effort and great returns on that effort. The outreach used an exceptional mix of tools that were appropriately applied to engage underrepresented groups. The analysis of the public comments and response by demographic group was carefully nuanced to translate into effective policy initiatives."  MAP congratulates the City of Sturgis and Beckett and Raeder!

Sturgis Spanish Survey Flyer



Outstanding Planning Project:  Urban Design

Memorial Park and Garden Club Park Master Plan

Williams & Works and the City of Rockford

The Garden Club Park and Memorial Park Master Plan directly supports goals outlined in the City’s Five Year Parks and Recreation Plan, the North End Subarea Plan, and the City of Rockford Master Plan. The community outreach strategy crafted for the Plan was uniquely tailored for this project. Rockford is a small but active community, so bringing the engagement to the people was key in the success of this outreach campaign. The design for Garden Club Park enhances the sense of place found in Rockford’s iconic downtown. The design for Memorial Park focuses on creating nodes of activity for learning, playing, and connecting with nature.One juror said,  "Public engagement was robust; design and activity elements are thoughtful and diverse."  Another said, "Excellent in outreach, scope and execution." Congratulations to the City of Rockford and Williams & Works!

Rockford Park Design Winter Use

Outstanding Planning Project:  Urban Design

Centennial Commons 

MKSK and City of Royal Oak

A robust public outreach process included a district study that revealed the Police Station and City Hall needed to be relocated, resulting in the perfect opportunity to revive the former Royal Oak Park and provide an outdoor amenity and experience for residents to participate recreationally, socially, and civically.  Designed as a “Glade” within the developed urban landscape, the new downtown park is designed to not only serve as a daily destination for downtown residents and the general working population, it is also designed to serve as a venue for a variety of events for the larger resident population. Jurors said, the "project that has rich detailing and a important and unifying location. These factors make the project exceptional based solely on the importance of the location and connections that Centennial Commons will create. It is a perfect fit and has the potential to be a focal public space that will be transformational"  Congratulations to the City of Royal Oak and MKSK!

Royal Oak Downtown Park Concept

Outstanding Planning Project:  Urban Design

Auburn Road Reconstruction

OHM Advisors and City of Rochester Hills 

Streets like Auburn Road often act as elements of division – inhospitable to neighborhood pedestrians in favor of serving vehicular traffic. Laid out during the auto boom of yesteryear, they were built to prioritize speed and ease of transport, rather than to promote and enhance local quality of life. With green infrastructure, boulevard-style drive lanes, on-street parking, safer roadway crossings, and pedestrian-focused design help to slow through traffic, create a destination space for people to enjoy, facilitate intra-neighborhood connections, promote further redevelopment, and renew the identity of this corridor as one which can unify a community.  Jurors said, "Clearly responds to local needs and effective in changing the nature of the area for the better."  MAP congratulates the City of Rochester Hills and OHM Advisors.  

Auburn Road

Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Bridging the Gap:  Planning for Neighborhood Quality of Life in Southwest Detroit 
University of Michigan 
Urban and Regional Planning Program

“Bridging the Gap” is a plan geared around mitigating the harm anticipated from the opening of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in 2024. Students from U-M worked in partnership with the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition, investigating urban planning, design, and policy approaches to safeguard resident quality of life throughout Southwest Detroit in anticipation of the bridge’s construction and the impacts that will follow. To develop this plan, the team focused on three issue areas for intervention within Southwest Detroit:truck-related land use, truck movement, truck noise and pollution mitgation.  MAP congratulates students (Andong Chen, Yichen Chen, Augusta Gudeman,Liz Gunden, Christopher Rodriguez, Ruben Shell, Siyi Song, Ben Stacey, Peter Swinton, Peiwei Wu, Tian Xie) and faculty Eric Dueweke and Jonathan Levine!

Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Self-Management Law, Now! Fostering Community-Owned, Permanently Affordable and Sustainable Housing in Brazil
University of Michigan 
Urban and Regional Planning Program

Brazil is experiencing a severe housing crisis, with extremely low-income households shouldering 84% of the national housing deficit. In response to an inaccessible formal housing market, members of social movements propose an alternative method of housing development: (self-managed) housing. This method of housing production is democratically produced and governed through practices of mutual aid. The movements have built over 30,000 high-quality, affordable housing units, but despite its success, shifting public administrations often translates to unstable funding streams and support for this mode of housing production.  University of Michigan was invited to develop a national educational and advocacy campaign for a draft bill. 
The team conducted fieldwork in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region in March 2020.  MAP congratulates students (Alex Abramowitz, David Baker, Josh Childs, Meagan Gibeson, Jacob Hite, Kimberly Higgins, Neetu Nair, Mrithula Shantha Thirumalai Anandanpillai, Rebecca Yae, Jessica Yelk) and  faculty Ana Paula Pimentel Walker!

Self Governance Now Website


 Leadership Award for Community Administrator

David Bunte

Supervisor, Chikaming Township

David Bunte has been the Chikaming Township Supervisor for nearly 4 years.  While working on a new zoning ordinance, David’s leadership allowed all voices to be heard, while maintaining forward momentum and leading to the adoption of the Township’s exciting and comprehensive new Zoning Ordinance. He was a constant fixture during ordinance discussions, providing a calming presence and clear direction, to keep the process moving and help build consensus.  MAP congratulates Mr. Bunte and thanks him for his planning leadership in Michigan.  


Helen S. Willis Award for Outstanding Commissioner 

Doug Dow

Planning Commission Chair, Chikaming Township

Mr. Dow was not Planning Commission Chair at the beginning of the Zoning Ordinance re-write process, but he was the Chair at the end of the process, when the Ordinance was adopted.  After becoming Chair, Mr. Dow took personal responsibility for the Ordinance document. Working on his own time, he conducted a line-by-line review of the entire document, developing a list of key topics to discuss and build consensus around. Then, he worked with professional planner, Township stakeholders, and other officials to ensure that all voices were heard – but also that final ordinance text was created to implement the consensus vision.MAP congratulates Chairperson Dow and thanks him for his planning leadership in Michigan.