Commission discusses ‘Master Plan’

BALDWIN – Community members are invited to share their thoughts on Lake County’s Master Plan at the County Commission’s meeting Thursday.

The Master Plan will be discussed during a public forum for community input on the plan at 2 p.m. during the meeting, which takes place on Thursday at the Lake County Courthouse, 800 Tenth Street in the Commissioner’s room on the 2nd floor.

The Planning Commission is authoring the document which sets the long-term goals for the county. Planning Commission Chairwoman Linda VanDolsen said that she sees the Master Plan as way to map out the county’s future for multiple decades.

“(The Master Plan) gives the county commissioners and the planning commission an overall lookout on what the community wants,” said VanDolsen. “It’s a tool for you to see where things are going.”

If there’s no major changes during the public hearing, the Planning Commission would like to have the Master Plan published by the state of Michigan’s deadline of April 1.

All agencies that give out grants to communities for public works projects require a Master Plan, as does the state of Michigan. VanDolsen said that the Planning Commission took a “community outreach approach” to formulate the plan and asked community members four basic questions to formulate the plan.

“We asked: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the county? What can do better for outreach? What do you see as potential threats to the county?”

During the process, the planning commission learned a lot about the population of the county. She said that collecting data for the demographics of the county was very convenient because of the recently released 2010 Census and said that “about 95 percent” of the demographic data was based on the current census.

“We learned that we are officially a senior county, that over half of our population are senior citizens,” she said.

According to VanDolsen, one of the most popular items residents want is “affordable, high-speed internet.”

Also popular with respondents is for the county to keep its “small-town ambiance.”

The plan also will present data on the current economic condition of the economy.

“Tourism and recreation activities are the bedrock of the economy,” she said. “We now know people want more low-income housing, more rental units and more jobs.”

Before the public hearing on the Master Plan, the regular meeting of the County Commission will take place beginning at 10:30 a.m.