2018-09-06 / Front Page

Huron County Master Plan work continues with planners now looking at the first draft

By John Bonke
Staff Writer • jbonke@mihomepaper.com

HURON COUNTY - The Huron County Master Plan is going through an update and, if all goes according to schedule, public input could be gathered in mid-December. The Huron County Planning Commission got a first draft of the Master Plan at a special meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 22. Alan Bean, with the Spicer Group, presented an overview of the document, outlining the contents, which include several maps showing various features of Huron County.

The next steps toward adoption include getting a draft with all of the changes back from the Spicer Group and then forwarding it to the Huron County Board of Commissioners, and then, if approved, a public review and comments including a public hearing. The process, with almost a dozen steps outlined, could take the rest of the calendar year, according to Bean’s overview at the Aug. 22 meeting.

The timeline said Oct. 3 could be a planning commission meeting at which approval of a revised draft could be voted on, if the previous steps go well. If the commissioners were to approve it at an Oct. 9 meeting, it would begin a 63-day review period and the plan would be distributed. A public hearing could be on Dec. 19, with the commissioners voting on Dec. 27 to adopt it.

The document, at 132 pages in the main sections, also contains three appendices. The 2018 Master Plan first draft’s Table of Contents lists: Introduction; Learning About Huron County (Demographics; Community Infrastructure, Services, and Facilities; Natural Features; and Existing Land Use); Listening to Huron County; The Vision for Huron County; Land Use in Huron County; and Plan Implementation.

The Introduction section leads off by stating the Master Plan is a document created “to guide the future growth, development, and redevelopment of the County.” Further, it also states it “helps ensure that Huron County continues to be a desirable region in which to live and work.”

It differentiates a county Master Plan from a local Master Plan in that the county document focuses on policy rather than “individual properties or developments.” Also, it functions “as an umbrella document, addressing plans and studies from other communities, and presenting a vision of growth, preservation, and development.” Additionally, a Master Plan acts “as a guide for future decisions by the County Planning Commission, the Board of Commissioners, staff, residents, and developers,” used in conjunction with the County Zoning Ordinance to “assist in guiding future land use decisions in the County.”

It also contrasts a Master Plan with a Zoning Ordinance. A Master Plan provides general policies, describes what should happen in the future, includes recommendations involving other agencies and groups and is flexible to respond to changing conditions. A Zoning Ordinance provides specific regulations, describes what land uses are allowed, deals with development related issues under Township control and is fairly rigid, requiring formal amendments for changes.

The next regular meeting of the county planning commission, Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. in Room 305 of the Huron County Building in Bad Axe, was after press time for this article, so watch for further updates.

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