Erie Township and 208 Plan
In Erie Township in southern Monroe County, residents and local leaders are clear that they value their mostly rural character and want to keep it that way. To maintain local control of the character of their township, residents have aligned their master plan, their zoning plan, and now their portion of the region’s Areawide Water Quality Management Plan (the 208 Plan) accordingly.
Community leaders in Erie Township had long believed that residents enjoy the local rural atmosphere. Much of Erie Township is rural and agricultural, with very low density residential development, and small rural businesses. When it was time to update the master plan, members of the Erie Township Planning Commission sought an extensive amount of public input to validate this perspective. A survey conducted in 2011 and other outreach efforts provided strong indications of support for maintaining rural character and lifestyles. When the residents were polled, they cited peace and quiet and open space as top priorities. The master plan reflects those local priorities and their portion of the 208 Plan also supports local priorities.
“TMACOG encourages communities to match facility planning area boundaries to meet local planning goals,” said Kurt Erichsen, TMACOG vice president of Environmental Planning. He explained that sewers are one implementing mechanism for local plans. A sewer line can determine where development can proceed, and the lack of sewers can support low population density.
Michael Demski, Erie Township building and zoning official, said that they had some challenges. “The township includes three separate districts that had to be coordinated,” he said. “But we worked hard and worked well with TMACOG. The plan fell together pretty smoothly.” He said that planning for the township’s goal of retaining rural character included identifying areas for potential development and identifying areas that should be preserved as rural.
Randy Mielnik, principal with Poggemeyer Design Group, Inc., assisted the township with the master plan and the subsequent zoning and 208 Plan work. He helped develop a citizen engagement plan that was crucial to the process. “Township officials went to great lengths to inform and engage residents on questions of growth and development,” said Mielnik. Input efforts included public meetings, postcards, and online surveys. “The end result is a series of local planning decisions that are all directly connected with the desires of the public.”
The most recent version of the 208 Plan for northwest Ohio and southern Monroe County is located on the TMACOG website here (large PDF). After a public comment period was concluded in May, the plan was approved by the TMACOG Environmental Council. It will be presented to the TMACOG Board of Trustees at their regularly scheduled June meeting. If the plan is approved as expected, it will be presented to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in July.