2018-02-10 / News

Master Plan Committee Seeks Public Comments

By Jacob A. Ball

The city’s Master Plan is nearing completion and will soon be available for public review and comment.

The plan emphasizes concerns, based on community feedback, about year-around housing, downtown traffic congestion, and protecting the natural environment.

Most issues raised during community workshops have been included in the current draft. Some suggestions from the community were not included, however, including a downtown lakeshore boardwalk. The community will have an opportunity to comment on these issues before and during a public hearing scheduled before adoption of the plan.

The Master Plan Steering Committee made plans Wednesday, January 24, to send a draft to the Planning Commission, which created the committee. Adam Young of Wade Trim, the firm hired to assist in the master plan’s development, will attend the Planning Commission’s March 13 meeting to review it.

A public hearing will be held after the conclusion of a 63-day comment period, which will include review by the Mackinac County Board of Commissioners and Planning Commission and Cloverland Electric Cooperative. These entities cannot demand any changes to the draft, but serve an advisory role.

Mr. Young will create a list of the major changes to the 95- page document to help residents sort through the new version.

Mr. Young told the Mackinac Island Town Crier that active participation from the community before the hearing is encouraged, and is actually more important than attending the hearing itself.

“It is certainly important, as the final measure, to allow citizens to have the opportunity after reviewing the plan to speak before the commission, and let them know how they feel,” he said in reference to the public hearing, but, “more important, is having time for the public to comment before the public hearing.”

During the Planning Commission’s initial review of the draft, he plans to discuss how to best engage the community. This could include additional workshops or questionnaires, which have both previously been used during this process.

Implementation

The implementation of the master plan is the responsibility of the Planning Commission. Committee member Lorna Straus inquired about the strategies for implementation, and how this will be directed, suggesting that the committee, or a new body, could meet periodically to review these policies to verify that the intent of the master plan is being fulfilled. Mr. Young said he thinks it is a great idea to have a strategy for monitoring the implementation.

The strategies for implementation are: regulation of property development through zoning controls, assuring community understanding and support for the plan, investment in capital improvements and financing that encourages desired development, and periodical review of the plan.

The assistance of a committee could help to ensure that the master plan is considered when reviewing zoning applications and building permits.

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