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Nelson Township is a General Law Township
This form of township government is conducted by a township board of either five or seven members, depending on the desires of the inhabitants and whether or not the township has a population of over 5,000, or has over 3,000 registered electors. Nelson Township has a five member board. The officers of the board are designated supervisor, clerk, treasurer, and trustee, with the trustees numbering two.
Appointed boards and officials may include a zoning board, a planning commission, a zoning board of appeals, a construction board of appeals, a building and zoning inspector, a board of review of tax assessments, a building authority, a civil service commission, election inspectors, an economic development authority and a Downtown Development Authority.
The list at left are the some of the Departments administered by Nelson Township officials and staff.
Michigan Local Governments
There are 20 states that have townships as a form of general purpose local government, with Michigan rated in the top few in governmental activity and authority. Townships first came into existence in Michigan through the Northwest Ordinance passed by Congress in 1787. Under this ordinance, township boundaries were arbitrarily drawn on maps to facilitate the surveying and conveyance of land. The principal functions of early townships involved relief for the poor, cemetery maintenance, road development, assigning damages caused by stray horses and cattle, fence viewing to determine the responsibilities of adjoining property owners and establishing boundaries for predators.
Since 1787, township government has developed into a governmental structure that today can provide practically any type of governmental service desired by its citizens and property owners. Specific services are determined primarily by citizen demands and the energy, progressiveness and knowledge of the township officials.
Michigan has 1,242 townships that vary considerably in geographical size and population. Although some effort was made to make townships approximately 36 square miles in area, irregular Michigan boundaries disrupted this formula. There are two types of townships in Michigan, general law and charter townships.
Excerpted from the Authorities & Responsibilities of Michigan Township Officials, Boards and Commissions "Little Red Book", 1995 edition.