Township outlines changes to zoning, master plan to boost development

MARQUETTE – Marquette Township officials said the community has taken significant steps over the past two years to promote and assist sustainable future development.

“Marquette Township continues to grow in population,” said township planning and zoning administrator Jason McCarthy in a recent news release. “The township aims to foresee changing trends in land use and resident needs and thus, changes in the way that the township conducts business is evolutionary and required.”

McCarthy detailed several modifications that have been made to the community’s master plan and zoning ordinance. He said those documents have been updated to incorporate improved land use management practices. Public input was also received from community leaders, residents and business owners and incorporated.

Updating the master plan was completed in February. Long range planning in the community will focus on “more compact, high-density commercial development.”

“Specifically, new development aims to follow established Smart Growth principles, such as prioritizing compact development to make the best use of existing infrastructure,” McCarthy said. “This will enhance the efficiency of public service provisions, reduce future infrastructure maintenance costs and aid in the preservation of natural resource lands.”

A safe, multi-modal, balanced transportation system, accommodating travel patterns of all users is planned. The main goal of future transportation plans is to provide access by area residents to commercial businesses without having to use the U.S. 41 corridor.

McCarthy said public services, facilities and infrastructure will continue to be provided and enhanced to support the residential, commercial and recreational activities of residents, business owners and visitors.

“Recreation, as a whole, plays a key part to our community’s long-term success and the preservation and enhancement of unique natural amenities is paramount,” McCarthy said. “Our objective is to continue to craft a community that supports an active, year-round recreational environment.”

In meeting future housing needs, the township intends to preserve the quality of existing residential areas. The master plan encourages providing an adequate housing supply for all residents and stages of life.

McCarthy said township government and staff have a common goal to improve responsiveness to citizens’ needs and timeliness in decision making, consistent with fiscal responsibility and transparency.

In addition to updating the master plan, the township zoning ordinance has seen several changes over the past couple of years.

Some of the changes McCarthy outlined include:

  • Overall reduction in the number of parking spaces developers are required to provide for various land uses. This was intended to provide for efficient use of resources, increase usable area for taxable improvements, reduce asphalt quantities (developer costs), create more effective drainage patterns and enhance greenspace and landscape areas.
  • Overhaul of the township sign ordinance based on the United States Sign Council Sign Code’s “Model On-Premise Sign Code.”
  • Allowance for joint signs to provide adequate highway frontage signing for businesses located back from the highway. The measure may also help consolidate current signs.
  • Adopting a Complete Streets ordinance to assist in creating a more walkable and bikeable community.
  • An accessory structures amendment was adopted to provide residences with increased indoor storage space by allowing additional square footage for attached and detached garages or sheds. The measure was intended to improve the aesthetic quality of neighborhoods. More items can now be stored indoors instead of being left outside, subjected to the elements.

McCarthy said the township hopes to improve the look of the U.S. 41 business corridor median. The township will pursue a Michigan Department of Transportation Traffic Alternatives Grant, which would allow the community to improve the aesthetic quality and stormwater drainage of the corrider.

“Lighting, place-making features, rain gardens, landscaping and safer crossings of the MDOT right-of-way are all proposed to be addressed within the scope of the project,” McCarthy said.

Marquette Township had 3,905 residents according to the 2010 population census.

For more information, call McCarthy at 228-6220, Ext. 105.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.