MARQUETTE - Chocolay Township planning officials are hoping to gain public input on a number of topics through a lengthy survey set to be unveiled in the coming days.
The 18-page document addresses possible municipal recreation opportunities, appropriate uses for public and private lands, support for township-wide regulations and seeks to gauge community input on where tax dollars would be best spent.
In addition, the survey focuses heavily on whether Chocolay Township residents support animal husbandry in residential areas.
A survey being mailed out to Chocolay Township residents this month will include questions aimed at gauging citizen support for residential animal husbandry. A proposed policy would allow for ownership of animals, ranging in size from rabbits and chickens to cows and horses. Pictured here is a flock of chickens at a small farming operation in Forsyth Township. (Journal file photo)
The inclusion of that topic will make the survey a vital piece of data, according to Chocolay Township Planning Director Kelly Drake Woodward.
"It's very important, for this particular survey, that people participate, especially because of the animals issue, the keeping of animals," she said. "That's something that the planning commission feels like they need more guidance on, as far as what people think is appropriate, and if they don't hear from them, then it's just a guess."
Woodward recently proposed to the Chocolay Planning Commission a set of regulations stipulating that animal husbandry be allowed as an "accessory homesteading activity," which is defined, in part, as something "meant to support the household in attaining some level of self-sufficiency."
As a part of the proposed regulations, Woodward came up with a system of "animal equivalents," which handicapped different types of grazing animals based on relative size and behavioral potential for nuisance.
While allowed animals would range from rabbits and chickens to horses, cows and llamas, the size of the grazing area, combined with the particular zoning of a parcel, would determine what types of animals would be permitted.
vThe planning commission decided to include the topic on the survey and await public input before making a decision.
Woodward said the survey data will be used to help guide the creation of the township's new master plan and five-year recreation plan. The initial goal is to lay a blueprint for the future, she said.
"This will all be a factor that's considered when we're creating policy in our master plan and creating the recommended goals and projects in the master plan," she said. "There may be some new regulations that come out of the recommendations of the master plan. Ultimately, it could end up as something that's legally enforced, but it starts by being something advisory, as far as being a part of the master plan."
The full master plan will go through a public hearing and approval process prior to being adopted.
Woodward said postcards will likely be sent out to every household in the township in the coming days alerting people of the survey. Residents will have the option of taking the survey online or contacting the township for a paper copy.
Multiple members of a single household will be able to take the survey, according to Woodward, who added that results will be compiled and made available to the public.
The survey will remain open until Sep. 30 and individual responses will remain confidential.
Woodward said she hoped the public process surrounding the master plan and recreation plan would be completed by the end of the year, with the plans being adopted before spring.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.