Case Studies - Great Lakes Communities


  Grand Haven, MI


Grand Haven - Grand Haven used an innovative planning tool, fiscal impact analysis, in their 2015 Resilient Grand Haven Master Plan. The analysis weighed the costs and benefits of building in places with a greater risk of flooding and erosion. It included three scenarios for erosion and flooding, three scenarios for building and development, and a comparison among all scenarios to determine the fiscal responsibility of different types of development. Based on the analysis, the plan included recommendations for safeguarding public health, enhancing emergency management capabilities of the community, and protecting the public infrastructure from future threats like increased precipitation and flooding. 

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 Resilient  Monroe, MI


City of Monroe, Monroe Charter Township, Frenchtown Charter Township The Resilient Monroe planning process was a collaboration between the City of Monroe, Monroe Charter Township, and Frenchtown Charter Township. The three communities, which share water resources such as Lake Erie and the River Raisin, joined together to create a multi-jurisdictional plan. The plan included vulnerability assessments to identify how changing water ecosystems and other future environmental trends would impact different segments of the population, and how the communities could respond.  The action plan placed emphasis on water preservation, low-impact developments, and connecting natural resource protection to placemaking and economic development in all three communities.

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  City of Marquette, MI


City of Marquette - The City of Marquette created a plan for relocating segments of Lakeshore Boulevard near the mouth of the Dead River to restore the natural dynamics of the shoreline.  The City plans to execute a “managed retreat” away from the shoreline and to build a natural buffer to help prevent erosion. Plans for the reconstructed roadway include building a dune swale complex, which is a sand dune planted with native grass and plants along the length of a road that helps prevent erosion.  The reconstructed road area will also include a bike path.

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  Leland Township - Fishtown


Leland Township – Leland Township is home to the historic commercial fishing center known as Fishtown.  In 2007, the Fishtown Preservation Society was formed to preserve the heritage of the town which had seen many buildings fall into disrepair.  In 2009, the Township also completed a Master Plan to manage the area’s growth and development while maintaining its historic character, and to protect the Township’s open spaces and natural areas.  The Zoning Ordinance was updated to include overlay districts that meet the needs of historic areas, the harbor, and commercial centers.

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  South Haven, MI


South Haven – The water resources of the City of South Haven include the shoreline along Lake Michigan, the Black River, and a harbor.  The harbor was once an industrial hub, but the City has been undergoing a process of de-industrializing the harbor in the last 50 years.  South Haven has focused its resources on new residential developments near the water, and has worked to link the waterfront to downtown.  This strategy has highlighted South Haven as a desirable place to live and as a tourist destination, which fuels the economic development patterns of the area.                    

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  Manistee, MI


Manistee – The City of Manistee has a deep water port facilitating shipping along the Pere Marquette River to Lake Michigan.  The City wanted to keep commercial shipping activity as part of its economic development strategy while also promoting recreational opportunities.  The City focused on barrier-free accessibility to the waterfront to make their water resources available for more people to enjoy.

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  Traverse City, MI


Traverse City – Traverse City has a highly developed downtown on the waterfront of Grand Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan.  There is a strong sense of place in the downtown area, which has contributed towards development pressures here and rising real estate values.  However, the success of Traverse City has given it resources to help counteract some of the negative aspects of economic development.

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  Pere Marquette Township, MI


Pere Marquette Township – Pere Marquette Township used master planning to help preserve natural shoreline dynamics along Lake Michigan and the Pere Marquette River.  There had been several planned developments along both of these waterfronts, mostly for industry and low-density housing units.  The Township introduced Conservation and Agricultural categories to allow for more areas to be regulated as either preservation or open space.

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