|Gratiot's countywide Strategic Action Planning kickoff event is scheduled for April 11 at 5:30 p.m. The event will be held at the St. Louis Church of Christ, 1075 W. Monroe Road in the all-purpose room. Citizen participation is welcome.
The event will help decide which of the project initiatives recently identified by the countywide Master Plan process merits first attention. For a copy of the Plan or a list of the Goals, Objectives, & Strategies go to www.gratiot.org/1/292/index.asp
. Additionally, there will be opportunities to identify and nominate new projects and issues that should receive community wide attention.
Last year the municipalities and the county adopted a new Master Plan. State law requires all units of government to draft or renew a Master Plan each five years. A Master Plan is primarily a broad based examination of previous and current land uses and a statement of intent of future land uses.
The process of planning encourages wide community input to identify what citizens would like to have as well as promote in their community. The law requires that each municipality (if working individually) plan for accommodating all types of legal property use.
The law also states that units of government sharing a border may plan together and therefore recognize that they are part of a larger, market-based community. Effectively, by collaborating, each municipality is exempted from having to provide for every type of land use. It is interesting to note that, through collaboratively working together, each individual municipal unit achieves a higher level of local control.
Using this planning provision, 23 Gratiot units of government worked to prepare a core Master Plan that was shared by all. Upon completion of the core plan, each local unit then added attributes and desires unique to themselves and locally adopted the plan.
A significant part of the Master Planning process is the gathering of public input through meetings, hearings, and surveys. As the Gratiot process was countywide, information was gathered from "all four corners," all sectors, and all ages. Because I was the Steering Committee Chair, I attended all the hearings and reviewed all material input and I was struck by how similar we hold core values, desires for the wider community, and view of the future.
City dwellers and rural residents all agree that they want to see action in the areas of more diverse economic activity, expanded skill training opportunities, wider recreation options, and stronger and more prosperous downtowns. They want all this in a wider community that wants to preserve its agricultural capacity and open spaces. Clearly, working on any of these requires more capacity than any individual municipality is capable of delivering. Further, there was a unanimous expectation to work collaboratively to achieve the goals! Only through collaborative engagement will success be achieved.
Now, we can plan till the cows come home but eventually all well intentioned talk must change into work if we expect real achievements. The Strategic Action Planning process will guide us in identifying which projects we should work on and what is the priority for action both short term and long term. I am certainly looking forward to action; our future depends on it.
Don Schurr is president of Greater Gratiot Development and currently sits on the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Collaborative Development Council.