Finding funds: TNC to partner with county in master planning process

TNC to partner with county in master planning process

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Julia Petersen, project manager for the Keweenaw Heartlands, talked to the Keweenaw County Board on Wednesday about a grant funding opportunity for a master planning process.

EAGLE RIVER — The Keweenaw County Board on Wednesday approved an opportunity for grant funding through The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for a master planning process.

“These funds were gifted to the Conservancy by a foundation that was very interested in supporting the Keweenaw Heartlands Project,” said Julia Petersen, project manager for the Keweenaw Heartlands.

As part of the support, she said, the foundation is interested in how the Keweenaw Heartlands Project interacts with the rest of the community and the community’s planning.

“Of course, the master planning process is the way to get at that,” Petersen said.

Internally, TNC has had conversations about where these dollars might be able to go, Petersen told the Board.

“We know that they want to support the Heartlands Project,” she said, “and also this community planning effort, and so The Nature Conservancy holds the funds currently, and it would be a grant relationship if the county is interested in pursuing that, and then if yes, I would just need to know who I would work with to scope out the agreement between TNC and the county. That support work would come to the county for approval for an RFP (Request for Proposal) process for the county to bid out the master planning process to a firm who does that type of work.”

Board Chairman Don Piche said he thought the proposal was a good opportunity for the county, because the Master Plan has to be updated every five years. The update is overdue.

The last plan, Blueprint for Tomorrow, was completed in 2016 by the Keweenaw County Planning Commission and the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region, with input from Allouez, Eagle Harbor, Grant, Houghton and Sherman townships, along with various county agencies. It was accepted by the County Board in 2017.

While the Planning Commission has been working to update the current plan, the major sticking points with its completions have been the issue of short-term rental zoning and the land owned by Keweenaw Heartlands.

The Board unanimously approved the proposal. The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for April 29, at which Petersen will be present.


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