New Designs: Alternatives to Sprawl
Traverse City project educates officials
December 1, 1997 | By Keith Schneider
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service
New Designs For Growth, organized by the Traverse Area Chamber of Commerce, is a pioneering growth management project for Northwest Michigan. It was launched last year to enhance the economy and preserve the environment in a five-county region by providing public education and land use planning services in rural communities.
The Benzie County Planning Department is updating its Master Plan, a project that is expected to take two years.
After hosting six "visioning" sessions last summer and generating widespread community support, the Planning Department now has formed a 60-member Citizens' Advisory Committee. The Institute's delegate to the Committee is Hans Voss, who joins county representatives from local governments, business interests, conservation groups, and community organizations.
"Everyone is concerned about growth," said David Neiger, Director of Planning for Benzie County. "We are looking at ways to make it friendly to the environment and make sure it occurs in the appropriate places."
Mr. Neiger and the planning commissioners are working with Mark Wyckoff, a highly respected land use consultant from the Planning and Zoning Center in Lansing, to coordinate the project. Citizens for Positive Planning, a local community group, is providing support for public education and fundraising.
Mr. Wyckoff has furnished the Citizens' Advisory Committee with tools that local governments can use to ensure that rapidly growing counties like Benzie do not succumb to a fragmented landscape and loss of community character.
The Committee will spend the coming year in smaller working groups to develop recommendations for a variety of pressing issues affecting economic development, transportation, residential and commercial building, farm land, open space, and recreation.u