The 2023 Sanilac County Master Plan is ready for the public to review and provide input. On Tuesday, November 8, the County Board of Commissioners approved the plan to go forward with the 63-day public review period. The plan can be viewed online at https://tinyurl.com/SanilacMP , and the public can submit your feedback and comments via email to email@example.com .
This plan was truly a community project, a collaboration between the Sanilac County Planning Commission, the Master Plan Steering Committee, county wide surveys of the public and high school students, visioning sessions across the county, and input from the Youth Advisory Council. In April 2022, the county hired the team of the municipal planning firm Beckett & Raedar of Ann Arbor to write the plan, along with Lisa Kenny of On Target Marketing in Sandusky to serve as local coordinator.
As part of the process, each township, village, and city in the county was contacted to submit their own Master Plans, and the county plan was built up from the individual municipality goals. Additionally, a 12-member Steering Committee of citizens and officials from across the county met regularly to review and suggest areas of focus to the writer of the plan, Rowan Brady of Beckett & Raedar. The Steering Committee members were chosen by the County Planning Commission to represent all areas of the county.
The county would like to thank the 12 Steering Committee members for volunteering their time over the course of a year to help develop the plan. These individuals include: Carl Osentoski, Sanilac Economic Development Director; Nathan Roskey, Sanilac County Administrator; Gary Heberling, Sanilac County Commissioner; Dave Faber, Sandusky City Manager; Gertie Van Den Goor, Dairy Farmer; Jason McConnachie, Crop Farmer; Angie Wagester, Real Estate Agent; Richard Laframboise, The Windjammer; Josh Robinson, Sanilac Community Foundation; Scott Kenny, County Planning Commission Chair; Jan Kargl, County Planning Commission; Denise Bush, County Planning Commission. Additionally, the Youth Advisory Council members were generous about giving input about what they want and need for the future in Sanilac County.
Through community input, 68 members of the public who attended the visioning sessions in September and October 2022 noted the most pressing topics they felt we were facing. Their answers were largely related to the industrial solar and wind farms and the impact on the local agricultural economy, improved needs for utilities like cellular phone service, internet and water, more transparency, training and communication from townships and cities.
The members of the Youth Advisory Council, a group of teens representing all our local schools, gave us input on what they want and need to be able to stay in or return to the area post college. Every one of them loved the rural area with our small town and country lifestyle, but they all cited the spotty cell service/internet, lack of housing and lack of things to do as major impediments to living here. They suggested we add in ORV trails, more businesses and restaurants, and have new construction of apartments or small homes to accommodate them coming home.
Much of the survey results were related to housing issues. With hundreds of homes taken off the market in the last few years to be short term rentals, and not a lot of new construction going on, there is a shortage of affordable housing. The increased costs of new construction make it vital that we clarify how people want to live in the next 20 years. The plan shows in detail what types of housing are wanted, what is not wanted, and this gives us a better chance of attracting developers to fit those needs. Additionally, it provides municipalities with sample zoning language and free resources to help them through this process.
Because so much of the public input was concerning industrial solar and wind farms and the issues each township and city is facing, the county applied for and received a grant to develop a “Sanilac County Renewable Energy Guidebook” to guide each local planning commission through the process of creating alternative energy zoning ordinances. This is being released to each township, city and village planning commission simultaneously with the Master Plan. It explains step by step what they need to do before, during and after the creation of a new ordinance.
Once you review the new County Master Plan, you will see the suggestions for solving those issues within the pages. Everyone is welcome to send their thoughts and comments regarding the new plan via email to firstname.lastname@example.org throughout the 63-day review period.