Township to update master plan

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 27, 2013

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Over the next nine months, township officials  will be updating the township’s master plan, which will likely incorporate the creation of more commercial uses, laying out priorities for road projects and adding mixed-use zoning to its ordinances.

Municipalities use master plans to guide development, establishing zones where certain types of structures can or cannot be constructed.

The Board of Trustees approved to initiate the normally nine-month process at its Feb. 13 meeting. When the final draft is completed, the township’s Planning Commission will recommend the updated plan to the board for approval.

Additionally, the township will have to notify its neighboring communities and the county of any possible changes before board approval, said township Clerk Michael Koehs.

The state requires that municipalities update their master plans every five years, said Jerry Schmeiser, a planning consultant for the township. The updated plans will protect the township from a developer who wants to build a structure in an unwanted zone.

“If we don’t have that covered in the master plan, then the court will have a favored reaction to whatever (the developer) wants,” Schmeiser said. “The court will say to us, ‘Well, you’re not planning.’”

Although preparation had yet to begin for the master plan, officials have already expressed interest in developing several changes.

Koehs said he’d like to see the master plan prioritize the rest of the township’s roads that need to be paved. Koehs would also like to see sidewalk systems completed in Macomb.

Schmeiser said the township likely will change its zoning ordinances, along with the master plan.

“The other thing we’re doing is we’re tweaking the entire zoning ordinance, which is the main way you bring about the master plan is through zoning,” Schmeiser said.

One ordinance change that has been floated throughout the past year is introducing mixed-use zoning ordinance to the township’s books, which would allow certain commercial and industrial uses to coincide with another on the same property. He said there are good examples and bad examples of mixed use.

A bad example is allowing a dance studio for girls to sit adjacent to a heavy industrial site.

“That’s not going to be allowed in our ordinance,” Schmeiser said. “That’s not mixed-use in the planning world.”

On the other hand, he said there are several light industrial businesses that can blend well with a dance studio.

“There’s a lot of things that can be put in there and not be unsafe,” Schmeiser said.

In the past, the township’s planning department developed the master plan separate from the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees. This time, Schmeiser said he hopes to include the two boards in the development process while in an open and public forum.

“I think that will make a better plan,” he said.