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Marquette County Master Plan survey seeks community responses

MARQUETTE — Have ideas for making Marquette County a better place to live, work and play? The Marquette County Master Plan survey is an avenue for residents to make their voices heard as the county’s master plan gets its first complete overhaul since 1982.

The survey, which can be accessed at www.mqt coplan.org, asks residents about the quality of life, needs and challenges in Marquette County and what they hope to see in the county’s future.

“We’re trying to get a community conversation going about where Marquette County is headed over the next 20 years,” said Marquette County Planning Manager Eric Anderson.

Those who take the survey are presented with a map of Marquette County that divides it into four named regional zones — Borealis Beach, Blueberry Farms, Moose Hills and Iron Core — and are invited to select their region of residence and answer specific questions about the region they inhabit.

“Because we are the size of a small state, there’s a lot of diversity within the county and we were trying to reflect some of that, that each region is something a little different,” Anderson said.

Since the survey opened in late September, it has already garnered around 1,000 responses, with staff reviewing and sorting responses on a daily basis.

They are already seeing trends emerge from the data, particularly in open-ended questions regarding community improvements and attractive features in each region, they said.

“There’s definitely patterns,” said Lauren Luce, senior planner at the Marquette County Planning Department.

The survey will remain open for at least another six months, as they hope to collect a large and representative sample of survey responses from residents across the county, planning staff said.

“We’re writing the plan, but it’s their plan, so we want to hear from everyone we can,” Luce said.

Conducting the survey is one of many steps in creating the master plan, Anderson said, as they are also using this year to attend a meeting of each planning commissions in the county to engage with each municipality’s planning commission and residents. The survey has already helped to inform some of these conversations with communities, he said.

“We look at the responses as they come along and it’s already raised some new questions,” Anderson said.

By attending each municipality’s planning commission meeting and collecting survey data, planning staff is aiming to develop a holistic picture of the needs, resources, challenges and opportunities in each township and region to build a picture of the whole county.

“We’re gathering input from each of these meetings and finding a way to try to process what that input means together with the themes that are emerging from the survey,” said Char Spruce, planner at the Marquette County Planning Department.

Furthermore, focus groups will be held over the course of the master plan’s development to gather input from more stakeholders, planning staff said.

“We have a preliminary outline to our master plan and we want to make sure we have a focus group for each of those topics within our master plan – natural resources, housing, things like that,” Luce said. “And at these (planning commission) meetings, we’re learning about more groups that we should be talking to.”

Once focus groups have been conducted, survey responses have been collected they’ve met with each municipality’s planning commission, staff anticipates holding further community input events for each region in winter 2020.

“We hope to culminate the survey with our region rallies,” Luce said.

Until then, residents are encouraged to spread the word about the survey in their communities and follow the process by attending their municipality’s planning commission meeting that with the master plan, they said.

Staff said they look forward to engaging with the community throughout the development of the master plan and feel the passion expressed about the area will be an asset to the planning process.

“There’s a lot of pride in the area, people are enthusiastic about this place, and a lot of people from other places who visit are enthusiastic about this place and that’s a great strength,” Anderson said.

County planning staff encourages the public to take the survey, share it on social media, and watch for the “Fun Fact Fridays” on the planning department’s Facebook page. To take the survey and find more information on the master plan development process, including presentations, a calendar of events and a timeline for the process, visit www.mqtcoplan.org.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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