Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 28, 2013

Document designed to steer planning for Benzie, Manistee

BY ANNE STANTON astanton@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Residents of Benzie and Manistee counties residents are being asked to weigh in on a planning document that will help guide the future look of their township or village.

A volunteer team just unveiled the master plan drafts for Arcadia, Blaine, Crystal Lake, Gilmore, Joyfield, and Pleasanton townships and the village of Honor. Organizers are urging residents to analyze and comment on the plan by Feb. 23.

“It’s exciting,” said volunteer Monica Schultz. “We really, really encourage people to go to the website, your local library, your township halls. It’s only going to be as good as people comment and participate.”

The project was set in motion about three years ago at the kitchen table of Brad Hopwood, who sits on the Arcadia Township Planning Commission in Manistee County.

“His idea was, we have this beautiful M-22 corridor, fantastic hiking trails. How can we take advantage of that and enhance our economic development along that corridor?” Schultz said.

Hopwood invited Tim Ervin, a Manistee Alliance for Economic Success consultant, and others who live on the M-22 corridor between Manistee and Frankfort to get involved, Schultz said.

The alliance helped secure $217,000 to fund the Lakes to Land Regional Initiative — the largest, volunteer-led, community-driven collaborative in Michigan, said Schultz, who serves as co-chair. The project will develop master plan drafts for 16 governmental units.

“There was an enormous amount of work, untold hours and drafts,” Schultz said.

A master plan is a guiding, non-legal document that covers everything from housing to recreation to transportation.

“It looks at history, projected demographics, looks at what the community wants based on conversations, and sets priorities,” Schultz said.

The placement and regulation of wind turbines, a hot issue in some of the townships, is not specifically called out in the master plans, Schultz said.

State law requires that master plans be reviewed every five years. Some townships had adopted Benzie County’s master plan and used it as a foundation piece, Schultz said.

Schultz, a Crystal Lake Township part-time resident, said the process was a wonderful opportunity to get everyone to think about the needs of year-round and summer residents alike.

“Every township is unique, and in our township, there was an embracing of everyone in the community,” she said.

The Michigan Department of Treasury and the C.S. Mott Foundation provided $157,000 and $60,000 grants, respectively. The firm Beckett and Raeder guided the project. To review the master draft online, go to ww.lakestoland.org.