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COMMUNITY PLANNING

While the WMRPC does not have a general land use plan for the entire seven-county region (it is the responsibility of each community to plan), the WMRPC does play a role in planning and has the capacity to help communities with individual or joint land use plans.  The WMRPC’s primary efforts focus on transportation planning, economic development, and land use planning – all of which are connected and influence the Region’s future.

 

 

Land Use Planning Resources

  

The WMRPC has many planning resources available to assist communities.  Staff is available to assist communities in developing or updating land use plans.  Staff can develop standard plan contents – such as descriptions of physical and social features, compiling community resource inventories, identifying issues, developing goals, creating projections, mapping existing land uses, and developing future land use maps based on existing patterns and community goals. 

  

The WMRPC can develop a plan (land use, master, recreation, etc.), with all of the required elements, for any member community in the seven-county area.  This service would require negotiations with the community to determine an appropriate work program and budget. The WMRPC is always available to assist in any planning effort and is available to provide text, information, mapping, analysis, facilitation skills, and other planning efforts.

  

An important point to remember is that the WMRPC has an informal policy that it will not compete with private sector consultants since consultants provide communities with a valuable service and do not receive funding from federal, state, and local sources.  Typically, the WMRPC will work with a community to develop a plan if it would not otherwise be feasible for a community to retain a consultant to perform the service.  Another point to consider is that if the WMRPC performs a plan for a community, it is intended to be a team approach, where the community is responsible for gathering information and developing portions of the plan.  The WMRPC facilitates projects but leaves the decision-making aspects of planning up to the community(ies). 

  

On-site planning resources include staff, demographic information, community information, planning documents, digital mapping and plotting capabilities, publishing capabilities, and document preparation capabilities.  Additionally, the on-site library is available and the Region is a member of the Michigan Association of Planning and the American Planning Association.  The Director is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

 

Some past projects of the WMRPC that involved land use planning include:

Big Rapids Township Land Use Plan

Ottawa County Shoreline Study

Allegan County Shoreline Study

Osceola County Land Use Plan

M-66 Corridor Study

M-40/M-89 Corridor Study

 

 

Planning Programs in Region 8

 
Each of the seven counties in Region 8 address planning differently.  The following is a summary of planning resources and efforts in the seven-county region.  It is not a complete list, but lists some of the more major efforts and programs – as well as the general "flavor" of planning in each county.

 

Allegan County

Allegan County has a countywide plan that was adopted in 1999 and has had several opportunities for updates since 1999.  The County has an active Planning Commission and is currently determining the best way to administer planning in the future.  Most of the individual communities in Allegan County also have planning commissions and fairly up-to-date plans. There are no individual planning departments in any of the County’s communities (except Holland).  Plan-updates are underway in the City of Allegan, the Saugatuck-Douglas Area, and Holland.  

 

Ionia County

Ionia County has an active Planning Commission and a countywide land use plan that was adopted in 2002.  The County does not have a planning department and voted against countywide zoning in 2004.  Most of the larger communities in Ionia County have active planning commissions and up-to-date plans, but there are several townships in the County that have no planning or zoning.  There are no individual planning departments in any of the County’s communities, but the three cities have a lot of capacity for planning efforts.  No plan updates are currently underway.

 

Kent County

Kent County does not have a countywide plan, planning commission, or department, but performs most related tasks through other county departments, individual communities, or the Grand Valley Metro Council.  Most communities have up-to-date plans and active planning commissions.  There are numerous updates and efforts underway or planned including the City of Grand Rapids Zoning Ordinance and the City of Wyoming’s Master Plan. Many individual communities in Kent County have planning departments, including the cities of Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming, Walker; and the townships of Ada, Alpine, Cascade, Gaines, and Plainfield.

   

Mecosta County

Mecosta County has a countywide plan that was adopted in 2001.  The County also has an active planning commission and countywide zoning.  The County has a Building and Zoning Department.  The City of Big Rapids has an active Planning Department and up-to-date plan.  Currently, Big Rapids Township is developing a land use plan.  Many of the townships do not have current plans – but are covered by countywide zoning.

 

Montcalm County

Montcalm County formed a countywide Planning Commission in 2004 and started its first countywide plan, which is expected to be finished by early 2006.  The County does not have a planning department, but has many people that are very knowledgeable in planning issues and serve many functions of a planning department.  The City of Greenville has an up-to-date Master Plan, with amendments just completed in March 2005.  Many of the communities in Montcalm County currently do not have active planning commissions or plans in place.

 

Osceola County

Osceola County has an active County Planning Commission and a countywide plan that was adopted in 2002.  The larger communities in the County have up-to-date plans, but many of the smaller, more rural communities lack planning resources.  The County does not have a planning department, but does have people that perform many planning functions.  We are not aware of any communities that are currently updating plans.

 

Ottawa County

Ottawa County has the most complete county planning department in the Region and has an up-to-date plan and active planning commission.  Additionally, the County is involved in many other planning projects including transportation and corridor studies, grant applications, and other planning efforts related to smart growth and education (they are the ones that created the scratch-n-sniff farm brochure).  Most individual communities in Ottawa County have up-to-date community plans and many have active planning departments.  Currently the City of Holland, the Village of Spring Lake, the City of Ferrysburg, and the City of Grand Haven have ongoing planning efforts.  

  

 

Links to Planning Programs in the Region

 

Links to Planning Organizations