Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 7, 2013

Land use plan unveiled

BY MICHAEL WALTON mwalton@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A proposed Grand Traverse County master land use plan calls for protection of the county’s pristine natural resources, preservation of rural and agricultural lands, and infill development in town and village centers.

The county’s Planning and Zoning Commission released the draft plan last week. It’s the culmination of an attempt to coordinate the efforts of municipal and township planning commissions, whose goals in many cases align with the region’s Grand Vision plan, said County Planning and Zoning Department Director John Sych.

“We knew a lot of (Grand Vision) principles were in local plans, we just didn’t have a mechanism to connect those and draw them out,” Sych said.

The county master plan, available online at masterplan.grandtraverse.org, identifies eight areas of focus.

Protecting the county’s natural resources and agricultural land top the list.

Other priorities include infill development of areas with pre-existing infrastructure and density like Traverse City, Kingsley and Blair Township’s Chums Corner.

That goes hand-in-hand with another priority: varying housing types and choices and increasing quality rental opportunities.

“We’re seeing a greater interest in living in the urban areas,” Sych said.

County Planning and Zoning officials are starting to collect feedback on the proposed plan from local planning and zoning commissioners, and from members of the public.

Grand Traverse County has a total area just shy of 315,000 acres, according to the draft plan. Forest covers about 43 percent of that area, while agricultural land covers almost 15 percent.

Commercial land is the largest intensive-use category, covering about 3,440 acres.

Grand Traverse County was the third-fastest growing county in Michigan between 2000 and 2010, the draft plan states.

The county had a population of about 87,000 in 2010. That number is projected to grew to 125,000 by 2030.