Graham Sustainability Institute

Community Benefits Ordinance Development in Detroit, MI

October 2019

Working with Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit, a Dow Fellows student team assessed how the social, economic, and environmental benefits have developed from Detroit’s Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO). CBO’s are tools that ensure that developers confirm the community benefits from a project to prevent harmful development and planning decisions. The team researched large-scale development projects and compared two projects from before and two from after the passage of Detroit’s CBO. They analyzed their data and determined recommendations are needed to improve the CBO process with additional resources being allocated to improve the quality of public participation. 

  • Location: Detroit, Michigan

  • Project Advisor: Barbara Israel

  • Project Team: Sharon Hu, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS); Karen Goldburg, SEAS; Julia Brennan, School of Medicine and College of Engineering; Melanie Meisenheimer, School of Public Health (SPH); and Melissa Robinson, SPH

  • A Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) is enacted to represent the impacted community and bring community concerns to the developer. 

  • Students analyzed benefits that have resulted and processes used to engage community members before and after the CBO. The team conducted their research through interviews and focus groups.