Category Archives: Carlisle/Wortman in the news

Leaders’ shared vision inspires Center Line development plan

Center Line DDA

Photo by David Lewinski

The city of Center Line has revived its downtown development authority and refocused its tax increment financing (TIF) in a placemaking initiative to attract businesses that serve nearby workers and young people to its tidy blocks of affordable houses.

“The first challenge is getting the willpower and getting a champion,” said CWA’s Dave Scurto in this January 21 Metromode article. “Center Line has overcome this fantastically. Everybody’s working together with the same vision and message. The mayor and the council understand the business community.”

The article features the Center Line city manager/DDA director and the mayor and their plans for a façade improvement program, gateway signage, enhanced wayfinding, streetscape maintenance and online marketing.

Dave compared the initiative to the city of Riverview’s successful plan to acquire a faded shopping center and redevelop it into a medical complex.

Public art project brightens downtown Ann Arbor

power-art-webAt Carlisle/Wortman Associates we understand the importance of public art in a community and we also understand the need for infrastructure. So it was a no-brainer for us to support PowerArt!, a collaboration between the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, the Public Art Commission and the Arts Alliance. The project covers traffic boxes in downtown Ann Arbor with vinyl, printed art reproductions by local artists. Considered public art or an urban canvas the traffic boxes contribute colorful, eye-catching fun to downtown while discouraging flyer-posters and graffiti artists from covering the boxes. You’ll find our powered-up box at the corner of Ashley and Washington.

Are you using all the benefits of your APA and MAP membership?

By Ben Carlisle and Paul Montagno

3 past MAP presidents -- DIck Carlisle, Paul Montagno and Dave Scurto, with MAP executive director Andrea Brown.

3 past MAP presidents — DIck Carlisle, Paul Montagno and Dave Scurto — with MAP executive director Andrea Brown.

Many of our readers are members of the American Planning Association (APA) and its state chapter, the Michigan Association of Planning (MAP). Carlisle/Wortman Associates’ commitment to these two organizations runs deep. We have three former MAP presidents on our staff * and Ben Carlisle is an elected member of the national AICP Commission, which oversees the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Naturally, then, we encourage you to join or maintain your memberships in both organizations. But don’t just take our word for it – the benefits are real and speak for themselves.

As planners, we’re keenly interested in new ideas and fresh approaches. APA delivers with its valuable monthly magazine, Planning, and 21 divisions which you can join, offering themes as diverse as hazard mitigation, regional planning, housing and new urbanism. APA has a library of reference papers and books and offer free photos taken by planners that you can use in presentations, proposals and publications. Check out their communications training guide.

Certification through APA has tangible benefits. The most recent APA/AICP survey shows that certified planners earn more than noncertified planners, even when experience and responsibility are considered. Certification also puts planners on equal footing with the architects, engineers, and other credentialed professionals with whom they work and compete.

If you’re a professional planner and a member of APA, you automatically belong to MAP. MAP also offers communities group memberships for their planning commissioners and elected officials. Anyone can join MAP for $60 per year.

Do your planning commissioners or zoning board members know what they need to know to keep your community out of trouble? MAP brings the training to you. MAP also has a planning library, publishes a regular newsletter and an e-newsletter. Learn at the annual conference in Kalamazoo, October 26-29, both in the conference sessions and a generous set of peer to peer networking opportunities. AICPs can earn continuing education credits at MAP conference sessions.

You can enhance the long-term benefits of membership if you give back a little to your profession. Teaching children about planning today will give tomorrow’s planners a supportive, knowledgeable constituency.

Join APA’s planners advocacy network or legislative action center to learn to influence federal and state officials and agencies.

Association membership is like a gym membership. It only works if you use it. Both APA and MAP offer an array of benefits you can use to improve yourself and your community.

Metromode interviews CWA’s Dick Carlisle about sprawl

dick-sprawl-courtesy-doug-coombe-webDevelopers continue to build new subdivisions in the far reaches of metro Detroit, but changing tastes and demographic demand are pulling people, especially the young and old, back into close-in, urban centers said CWA President Dick Carlisle in this Metromode article.

While studies have ranked Detroit the 12th most sprawling metro area in the country, and one of the fastest sprawling, Dick said baby boomers who want smaller homes in a walkable community will join with millennials, 16-35, who don’t want to drive and prefer smaller, lower-cost housing, to drive demand in urban places.

“The biggest city in the state still hasn’t yet fully responded to the trend for more walkable urban placemaking,” Dick said. “The pressure is now on, and the timing couldn’t be better.” He said a comprehensive transit system is essential to the trend.

“At some point in time we have to begin to understand that there’s going to be a whole generation of people that either don’t want to or will not be able to own a car,” he said. “Frankly, that’s going to cross generations.”

Three new planners join the Carlisle/Wortman team

Chris Nordstrom, PLA, ASLA has joined our staff as landscape architect, Chris Atkin as a planner, and Charlotte Wilson as a geographic information systems (GIS) technician/ planner.

“Our client base continues to grow, and our existing clients are becoming busier as the economic conditions in the region improve.  It was time to bring on new staff so that we can continue to provide the high level of service our client’s expect,” said company Executive Vice President, Doug Lewan, AICP.

Nordstrom_Chris_webChris Nordstrom, PLA, ASLA, is a landscape architect with experience in both public and private sector projects. He  has a strong interest in sustainable design and development. His experience includes recreation plans, park plans/designs, trail plans/designs, municipal infrastructure, housing designs, and parking studies for both public and private sector clients. Nordstrom’s abilities span the areas of graphic communications, public engagement, report writing, wetland delineation, and GIS. He lives in Ann Arbor.

Atkin_Chris_webChris Atkin has more than five years of experience as a planner and zoning administrator in the public sector. He is experienced with zoning, land use, economic development, brownfields, site planning and site plan review, historic districts, ordinance updates and rewrites and GIS. Prior to joining Carlisle/Wortman Associates, Atkin worked for the City of Adrian, Mich., serving as the director of community development and for the City of Jackson, Mich., as the planning director. He lives in Adrian.

Charlotte Wilson joined Carlisle/Wortman as an intern in the summer of 2015 after graduating from the University of Michigan with her master’s degree in urban planning with a specialization in land use and environmental planning. Recently she has been hired as a GIS technician and associate planner. Wilson has contributed to several projects including master plans, parks and recreation plans, zoning ordinances, site plan reviews, and public engagement events. She lives in Ann Arbor.


Three planners promoted

To accommodate the company’s growth, CWA has promoted Doug Lewan, AICP to the position of executive vice president and Ben Carlisle, AICP and Sally Elmiger, AICP, to the position of principal.

“Our growth has created a demand for broader management, particularly in operations,” said company co-founder Dick Carlisle, AICP. “Doug will oversee our professional and support staff, technology and office operations. This will allow me to concentrate on the long term strategic direction of the company and to devote more attention to growing our subsidiary, Code Enforcement Services.”

Doug Lewan

Doug Lewan

Lewan, 51, has more than 28 years of professional practice experience in the public and private sector, joining Carlisle/Wortman in 1993. His experience includes all aspects of community planning and zoning. In addition to his management role with the company, Lewan currently represents 10 communities primarily in Washtenaw and Oakland counties.  He received his master’s degree in urban planning from Wayne State University and a bachelor’s degree in community planning from Northern Michigan University. Lewan lives in Plymouth.

Sally Elmiger

Sally Elmiger

Sally Elmiger, 54, joined Carlisle/Wortman in 1999. She received a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the school of natural resources and environment at the University of Michigan, specializing in environmental design and land conservation.  In addition to providing continuing services, she contributes expertise in environmental planning, historic preservation, site design and recreation planning to many client projects.  Elmiger lives in Plymouth.

Ben Carlisle

Ben Carlisle

Ben Carlisle, 36, joined the firm in 2011 as a community planner after 10 years working in the Chicago area for local government and as a planning consultant. He serves numerous Washtenaw and Oakland County clients including the cities of Troy and Ann Arbor. He received a bachelor’s degree in urban planning at Miami University and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from University of Illinois-Chicago.   Carlisle is also the Region IV representative to the AICP Commission of the American Planning Association.  He lives in Ann Arbor.


CWA staff includes three past presidents of the Michigan Association of Planning

Group-small-shadowCarlisle/Wortman Associates is home to three past presidents of the Michigan Association of Planning: Dick Carlisle, Dave Scurto and Paul Montagno.

CWA President Dick Carlisle served on the MAP board from 1995 to 2002 and as president in 2000 and 2001. During that time, the Michigan Society of Planning Officials (MSPO), an organization of citizen planners — planning commissioners and zoning board members – merged with the Michigan chapter of the American Planning Association, which represented professional planners.

“I was vice president during the merger negotiations then became the first president of the newly merged organization, facing the challenges of that blended board,” Carlisle said.

Dave Scurto was on the board from 2004 to 2011, serving as president in 2009-2010.

“The merged organizations had remarkable resources,” Scurto said. “We had 5,000 dues-paying members. We had a full time executive director and other staff. We were and are one of the largest chapters of the American Planning Association, which has helped give us a greater voice with APA.” During Scurto’s tenure, the MAP board extended its outreach, including a multi-day member event in Sault Ste. Marie and the creation of a social equity committee to encourage communities to make sure their plans are fair and just for all.

Paul Montago began his service to MAP prior to joining Carlisle/Wortman this year. He’s been on the board since 2010 and was president in 2013-2014.

“MAP establishes land use policies that members can use to inform and guide their plans,” Montagno said. “During my tenure on the board we worked hard to close the loop between MAP policies and our legislative advocacy. We also dove deep into the often fractious relationship between planners and real estate developers, resulting in some valuable sessions at MAP’s spring and fall conferences.”

“No other Michigan planning firm has three MAP past presidents on staff,” said the organization’s executive director, Andrea Brown, “But Carlisle/Wortman’s service to our organization goes far beyond this unique record. They are an elevated corporate member of the association, sponsoring our events and providing training and conference speakers and editorial content for our publications. We deeply appreciate all they do for the organization.”