Throughout Michigan we find 36-square-mile townships, many of which want to preserve their rural character, surrounding villages or cities that want to concentrate development around existing infrastructure. A joint master plan, like the one Carlisle/Wortman Associates completed for Manchester Township and the Village of Manchester a year ago, can help both communities accomplish their goals.
After creating and adopting the joint master plan, the two communities approved a joint, five-year recreation plan, continuing the spirit of cross-border cooperation and planning. Both communities would like trail connections to the new Watkins Lake State Park. The joint recreation plan makes it easier for them to coordinate improvements to recreational assets and makes both entities eligible to apply for county and state grants.
Joint planning between multiple municipalities in enabled by the Michigan Joint Municipal Planning Act (Public Act 226 of 2003). A joint master plan:
- Allows the village and township to plan for resources, infrastructure, and characteristics that cross municipal borders, including the River Raisin, roads, and people.
- Allows both municipalities to jointly manage development patterns, design characteristics, and the extension of services.
- Acknowledges the economic interdependence of the village and the township.
- Provides a better structure for protecting natural resources which cross municipal borders; and
- Provides a defense against the charge of exclusionary zoning. The entire joint planning area can be utilized to plan for the full range of land uses.
A key component of the joint master plan is the growth transition area (GTA) (see figure), where sanitary water, public sewer and transportation infrastructure are either currently available or are expected to be available in the near future. The GTA intentionally corresponds with higher-density areas shown on the future land use map and effectively marks the separation between planned rural and more urban areas.
“We’ve identified areas that might need service and when somebody comes to develop in those areas we go into it as a united front,” said Village Manager Jeff Wallace. “Having all those discussions ahead of the project takes the emotional factors out of it. We’re on a united front; they can’t divide and conquer.”
The Manchester Community Joint Planning Commission meets at least four times per year to track the progress towards the plan’s goals.