Houghton County preparing master plan update

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette The Houghton County Planning Commission discusses its update to the county 2012 master plan during its meeting Friday. Board Chairman Allan Aho said final approval of the update is expected in February or March.

HOUGHTON — The update to Houghton County’s master plan should be ready early next year, Planning Commission Chairman Allan Aho said Tuesday.

The original goal had been to approve a final plan by the end of this year.

This marks the first renewal of the master plan, which replaced the county’s land use plan in 2012.

“Given some of the good interaction that’s taken place, it’s gotten delayed a little bit just to make sure that we get everything incorporated into the plan that we want,” Aho said.

The plan also has to be given to the county Board and to the public for review. Final approval of the plan will would be in February or March.

Aho said the work over the past year had focused on additions in areas that hadn’t been discussed in much detail in the original master plan.

“There’s changes that’ll always happen when you revisit this matter within the county after five years, what has taken place,” he said.

The master plan is intended as a guide for the county and municipalities in planning regarding future land use. The 2012 plan lists several criteria for the plan, such as balancing economic well-being and quality of life, and guiding development in a way that enhances residents’ health, safety and welfare.

Tuesday, the Planning Commission discussed topics such as rural internet access, air service and the prospect of returning rail service to the Keweenaw.

Due to timing, the plan will retain the 2010 census data from the previous plan. Newer data about the labor force in Houghton County will be available, Aho said.

Aho said assembling the plan has been a smooth process.

“Next month, we’ll put together all the different elements everyone has felt should be included,” he said. “That’s what the secretary will have available for the group. But there won’t be any surprises because we’ve all discussed it up to this point anyway. It’s just a matter of getting it all consolidated within one document.”