Marquette County master plan moving forward

MARQUETTE — Lakeshore development, outdoor recreation and housing availability are topics on the minds of many county residents.

For a more cohesive vision of how residents would like to see the county grow in the next 20 years, the Marquette County Planning Commission is spearheading the Marquette County 2040 Master Plan.

“The plan will reflect common goals, objectives and themes to enhance the current planning initiatives already underway in each community and provide a general framework for leaders and decision-makers within the Marquette County area,” the master plan website states.

The plan has not been updated as a whole since 1982.

“Separate chapters have been updated since, now and then, but when you update chapters at a time they’re kind of piecemeal and sometimes the information overlaps, so we felt it was definitely needed to update the document as one comprehensive document,” said Emily Leach, senior planner with the county.

The project began in September 2018 and is currently in the data collection phase.

“Our main goal throughout this process is to get as much input as possible from different stakeholders, be it local government, the community, businesses, everyone that we can as we’re moving forward with it,” Leach added.

A community survey has been open for public input since the beginning of the year and will come to a close at the end of December. So far, roughly 2,600 residents have participated. The survey, made up of multiple-choice questions and a few short answers, takes 5-10 minutes and asks respondents what issues they see present in the county and how they would like to see the area develop over time. The survey can be found by visiting mqtcoplan.org/survey.

“The local community — that’s what it’s all about, that’s why we’re creating this document, is to better Marquette residents’ quality of life, and we need to hear from everyone to know what to put in the plan,” Leach said.

Over the last year, 22 planning commission meetings also took place to discuss the master plan. Meetings brought about discussion on a few recurring themes such as housing affordability, housing blight, need for internet access and cell service, need for better public transit, roads and water infrastructure maintenance, materials management, food access issues, short-term rentals, seasonal vacation homes, sustainable recreation and trails expansion, she said.

“Key takeaways other than identifying those topics include future economic opportunities; so skilled jobs, that came up quite a bit,” said Leach, who also mentioned the tourism industry as another popular topic.

Quite a few municipalities touched on marijuana and renewable energy as potential economic opportunities, Leach said.

The next phase in the planning process is strategy development. The county was separated into four regions or planning areas — Borealis Beach, Moose Hills, Iron Core and Blueberry Farms — for the process. Region Rallies will be held in each region this spring to present data findings and to flush out various strategies that will help accomplish area goals. Planning staff will also conduct agency and organization interviews over the next year to better understand trending issues and identify strategies.

“It takes everyone in the county to put this vision together, and if you have one cohesive vision when these key topics keep coming up throughout the whole county, it helps us all to work together, and Marquette County is huge and the regions do vary throughout, but we can already see through our data collection that there’s pretty solid trends coming up,” Leach said. “If we set this vision at the county level, at the local planning commission levels, then those local communities could use this document to start checking off those strategies to move forward.”

The Marquette County 2040 Master Plan is on track to be adopted by June 2021.

To view quick facts on the regions such as population and strengths and weaknesses or for more information on the master plan and how to get involved, visit mqtcoplan.org.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is tcarey@miningjournal.net.


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