Acknowledgements. Port Austin Township 2022 Master Plan

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2 Acknowledgements This Master Plan was prepared by Port Austin Township Planning Commissions and the Land Information Access Association (LIAA). Special thanks to the Coastal Zone Management Program for funding this project. Thanks also to the many Township residents who volunteered their time to this planning effort. Port Austin Township Supervisors Paul Nienaltkowski Brandt Rousseaux Port Austin Township Planning Commission Gary Babcock Judy Beam Ray Boswell Paul Fisher Brenda Heilig Diane Jodoin Margaret Young Also Contributing Time and Knowledge Mary Ellen Babcock Dean & Elizabeth Herd Charlie Parks Barry & Kathy Bethell Shelley Herrington Jay Pease Carol Crake Margaret Hinkle Megan Ruthko Darcie Finan Marlene Jobe Larry Siminski Paul Fisher Amanda Nienaltkowski Martha Thuemmel Denise Gordon Carl Osentoski Debra Hubbard 2

3 Table of Contents Chapter 1: Introduction.. 4 Chapter 2: Existing Conditions...8 Chapter 3: Goals Chapter 4: Future Land Use. 25 Appendices..28 Appendix A 29 Appendix B

4 Chapter 1: Introduction Introduction Introduction

5 Introduction Purpose of the Master Plan Port Austin Township is located in Huron County at the northern tip of Michigan s Thumb, 17 miles north of the city of Bad Axe and 66 miles northeast of Bay City. The community has a rich agricultural and industrial history and currently is a vacation destination for hundreds of people who populate residential subdivisions bordering Lake Huron. This Master Plan represents the opportunity to update a vision for our Township. The Master Plan is long-range in its view and intended to guide development in the Township over a period of 10 to 20 years. It is intended that this document will be reviewed by the Township and/or updated every five years, consistent with state law (Michigan Planning Enabling Act of 2008). The information and concepts presented in this Master Plan may be used to guide local decisions on public and private uses of land and the provision of public facilities and services. A sound Master Plan promotes a land use pattern that reflects a community s goals. This document may act as a reference during community decision making processes. 5

6 Community Engagement Process Master Planning Process Our planning process began in September, 2019 when members of the Village and Township Planning Commissions, along with public participants, met with professional planners (Land Information Access Association LIAA) who offered to assist both Port Austin Village and Port Austin Township in updating their respective Master Plans. LIAA held several public joint meetings with the Village and the Township where they encouraged participants to examine: existing conditions of their respective localities what was important to preserve what might be improved what might be added Much of the Township input focused on preserving a current quiet, rural, underdeveloped identity while encouraging the expansion of year round activity for residents and visitors. In June, 2020, LIAA furnished the Township with a Master Plan Draft which we have now personalized to write the Port Austin Township Master Plan. Photo: LIAA 6

7 The following concepts summarize public input gathered at public meetings Preserve Aesthetic quality (lake/shoreline views, memorable sunsets, underdeveloped rural atmosphere) Natural amenities (beaches, Lake Huron shoreline, woodlands, pure water & clean air) Cultural amenities (Port Austin History Center, Port Austin Township Library, an active arts community, Port Austin Area Community Theater, churches). Local economic contributors (area small businesses including grocery, hardware, bars/restaurants, tourist accommodations, local art fairs, charter fishing, a seasonal weekly farmers market, agriculture including crop production & dairies) Recreational amenities (parks, beaches, lake access sites, opportunities for fishing, hunting & boating,) Transportation (local bus service/ Thumb Area Transit & quality of roads) Improve Infrastructure (Township-wide cell phone & internet availability, availability of public water & sewer, 911/ ambulance system) Structural and aesthetic quality of the built environment ( elimination of blight, vacancy, & underutilized spaces,) Recreational assets & non-motorized connections (amenities at parks and beaches, biking, hiking, & walking trails) Local economy (digital infrastructure sufficient to support online employment opportunities, attraction/retention of talent and small businesses) Population age diversity (youth activities, aging in place, cultural opportunities for families) Create Higher quality built environment (cell phone tower/s, management of shoreline water and sewer systems, public restrooms) Business diversification (online businesses, commercial kitchen, agricultural tourism, college internship programs) Public health amenities (pharmacy, healthy living initiatives, urgent care facility) Age-friendly community (teen/senior center) Wider range of recreational amenities (facilities for handicapped fishing/hunting, dog park, snowmobile trail, additional non-motorized routes) 7

8 Chapter 2: Existing Conditions 8

9 Existing Conditions Regional Setting Port Austin Township is located in Huron County at the northern tip of Michigan s Thumb, which for the purposes of this document consists of Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola Counties. The Township features residential subdivisions of mainly summer cottages in a quiet rural setting along its Lake Huron shore and an inland devoted to farming. Taxable acreage is approximately 2/3 agricultural and 1/3 residential. The Township is bordered by Lake Huron to the east and west and encompasses the Village of Port Austin. The Village and the Township are intertwined and yet have separate municipal governments, zoning ordinances, and somewhat differing planning goals and priorities. The Township is largely dependent on the Village for commerce having very few businesses of its own. On the other hand, the relatively stable seasonal population of the Township offers support to Village businesses and activities which lessens dependence on tourists. Port Austin Township is served by State Highways M-25 (east-west) and M-53 (north -south) and is bordered to the north by Lake Huron. The Port Austin community is adjacent to nearby Pointe Aux Barques Township to the north and Hume Township, Dwight Township and Huron Township to the south. Planning in Neighboring Communities Point Aux Barques Township Pointe Aux Barques is a township in Huron County surrounded by Port Austin Township and Lake Huron. The municipality is largely undeveloped and is comprised mainly of a private, gated residential community along with wooded acreage dedicated to open space preservation. The population, according to the 2010 US Census was 10 people. 9

10 Hume Township Huron County s Master Plan (draft version, 2018) provides a Future Land Use Map for Hume Township and Dwight Township, both zoned by the County. Plans for Hume are to maintain the Township as primarily agricultural with single family residential zoning along the Lake Huron shoreline. There is a small portion of land dedicated to Business use near the southwest corner of Port Austin Township. Map 1. Future Land Use Map, Huron County Huron Township Huron Township is zoned by its municipal government, though a Future Land Use Map was not readily available for this plan s analysis. However, in a discussion with Huron Township s Zoning Administrator it was confirmed that nearly all of the land in proximity to Port Austin is agricultural in zoning and use with undeveloped woodland areas along the shoreline. Dwight Township Similar to Hume and the county as a whole, Dwight Township s future land use is planned to remain primarily agricultural. There is a small portion of land near M-53 and Port Austin Township s south end, as shown in Map 1, with a Business use classification. Source: Huron County Master Plan (draft, December 2019), prepared by Spicer Group 10

11 Port Austin Township Facilities & Infrastructure Schools Port Austin Township is served by the North Huron School District (current enrollment of 355 students) and the Huron Intermediate School District. North Huron School facilities are located in the Village of Kinde. Huron Intermediate School District offers instruction in technical programs to North Huron high school students. Their facilities are located in Bad Axe.. Economy In addition to agriculture, Port Austin Township has a seasonal economy driven by the large number of people who make the shoreline of Like Huron their vacation destination. Housing Township housing currently consists almost entirely of single family residences. Of the roughly 1000 dwellings on land zoned Residential approximately half are principal residences and half are second/vacation homes. Nearly 100% of homes on land zoned Agriculture are principal residences. 1 Medical Facilities The Township is a participating member of The Central Michigan Ambulance Association. There are no medical facilities located in the Township, however McLaren s Port Austin Primary Care and Convenient Care Clinic is located in the Village of Port Austin. Numerous hospitals, and clinics are located in the surrounding area. 2 Transportation Bus service is available throughout Port Austin Township through Thumb Area Transit. For long-distance needs, the Greyhound national bus network has buses originating in Bay City, Rail travel via Amtrak does not service Port Austin. The nearest Amtrak stations are located in Flint and Port Huron. Commercial air travel is within easy reach of the Port Austin community: MBS International Airport in Freeland, Bishop International Airport in Flint, and Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan. 1 See Appendix A 2 See Appendix B 11

12 Township Offices. Offices are located at the Port Austin Township Hall, 8751 N. Hellems Road, Port Austin, MI Regular monthly Township Board Meetings, Elections, and Public Meetings of other township commissions are held at these offices. Fire Services. Fire protection service for the Township is provided by the Port Austin Volunteer Fire Department, located at 8633 Lake Street, Port Austin. Police Services. Police protection for The Township is secured through the Village of Port Austin with funds from a mileage paid by township residents. The Huron County Sheriff's Department and the Michigan State Police also patrol our township and serve our community. Emergency contact for Police, Fire and Ambulance is 911. Public Water. Public water provided by the Huron Regional Water Authority is available in a few areas just beyond Port Austin Village limits; however, public water is not available in most of Port Austin Township. The Township depends primarily on private wells for water supply. Where adequate wells have been difficult to drill, residents have installed storage tanks and contract with a private supplier for water delivery. Public Sewer. Public sewer is not an option in most of the Township where individual septic systems remain in use. Septic system installation is regulated by the Huron County Health Department. Port Austin Area Sewer and Water does offer public sewer service to a small area just beyond the Port Austin Village limits. Digital Infrastructure Internet & Mobile telecommunications: Although location within the Township limits the choice of providers, internet connectivity is served by Xfinity, CenturyLink, AVCI and Air Advantage. Satellite provider Hughesnet is also available. Mobile telephone service, widely available throughout the Township, is nevertheless very deficient along much of the Township shoreline. The Township maintains the website Other Utilities. Electricity in Port Austin and the Thumb area is provided by DTE energy, while natural gas is provided through Consumers Energy. Port Austin Township Public Library located at 114 Railroad Street. 12

13 Port Austin History Center Located on Pointe Aux Barques Road in Port Austin Township, the History Center features exhibits and educational information on historic community features such as Port Crescent, the Fire of 1881, and St. Michaels Catholic Church. 13

14 Parks & Recreation Eagle Bay Public Access A DNR Public Access site located between Grindstone and Port Austin. Fluctuating water levels of Lake Huron are very evident at this normally shallow, rocky spot known for bass fishing and kayaking. Grindstone Harbor and Access A DNR property offering a small craft boat launch and home to numerous charter boats. In addition to the History Center, Eagle Bay Access, and Grindstone Harbor all located in Port Austin Township, numerous nearby parks are available to Township residents. they include: Bird Creek County Park Veterans Waterfront Park Gallup Park Water Tower Park Port Crescent State Park Sleeper State Park Huron County Nature Center & Wilderness Arboretum 14

15 Goals 15

16 Goals The primary function of the 2022 Port Austin Township Master Plan is to guide future development and growth within the Township. The Master Plan goals offer a guide for future Township decision making. Throughout our planning process to update this Master Plan Township residents have identified several important goals. The following pages list these goals and suggest possible pathways toward their achievement. Township Government consists of a five member elected Board, a certified assessor, a Planning Commission with Zoning authority, a Zoning Administrator, and a Zoning Board of Appeals. The Township Board: Supervisor, Treasurer, Clerk, together with two trustees are charged with the responsibilities of levying taxes, collecting taxes, paying bills, maintaining township records, holding elections, and conducting other necessary township business. The Assessor appraises and determines tax liabilities of all real estate parcels and conducts Boards of Review. The Planning Commission maintains a Zoning Ordinance and a Township Master Plan. The Zoning Administer enforces the zoning ordinance. The Zoning Board of Appeals has authority to grant variances from zoning regulations. Because Port Austin Township is limited by budget and personnel, achievement of many the following goals may depend on securing grants or private initiative. 16

17 Goal 1 Maintain Township attractiveness as a summer vacation destination while continuing to establish itself as a place of year-round activity. A: Maintain existing attractiveness defined by rural character, woodlands, and views of Lake Huron. 1: Maintain the Township s quiet, remote character by supporting efforts to preserve farmland, wooded areas, open spaces and lake access. 2: Promote efforts to maintain the community s agricultural identity by directing developments away from sites zoned Agriculture. 3: maintain the dark sky conditions in Port Austin Township by regulating ambient light and light sources. B: Attract, retain and grow local businesses that help to diversify the Port Austin Township economy. 1: Encourage business owners with orchards and farms to provide tours, education and experience-driven services in addition to their normal operations. 2: Encourage Township business owners to express any ongoing community needs. 3: Maintain an updated Township website ( C: Provide Township residents with education and job training resources. 1: Work with the agricultural industry in Huron County to create student internship opportunities at farms, orchards and gardens. 2: Coordinate with North Huron Schools, the Huron Intermediate School District, and the Huron County Economic Development Corporation to offer adult education classes. 17

18 D: Encourage the number of recreational opportunities offered. 1: Create a community calendar so that event planners can reduce the number of overlapping events. 2: Collaborate with Huron County and nearby municipalities to increase the number of community events, classes and recreation leagues in public spaces. 3: Consider possible additional uses at public easements, especially those that provide access to the Lake Huron. 4: Coordinate with nearby jurisdictions to create a marathon, bike race, ski race or other sporting event. 5: Encourage and identify off-season recreational opportunities such as connected hiking / ski trails and walkable routes to points of interest. E: Improve existing amenities. 1: Promote safe access to the waterfront, including safety features, handicap ramps and ADA-accessible launches. 2: Evaluate public spaces to ensure that they are designed to accommodate all ages and abilities. 3: Partner with the State of Michigan to preserve the Points at Grindstone. 4: Improve the quality and availability of broadband connectivity and cellular services. 5: Support local ambulance and medical services., and encourage additional defibrillators in public spaces. 18

19 Goal 2 Provide safe and efficient transportation. A Expand biking as a form of transportation and recreation. 1: Use markings/signage to designate roads having adequate shoulder widths for both bikes and automobiles 2: Provide maps of established bike routes. 3: Construct bicycling amenities B: Implement programs, plans and design standards that support a more walkable Township. 1: Partner with neighboring communities to develop a regional trails plan 2: Acquire easements to develop paved recreational trails. C: Improve regional transportation opportunities that do not require a personal vehicle. 1: Encourage transit sharing services such as ride-sharing,scooter rentals,or bike-share. 2: Encourage Thumb Area Transit to expand transportation to events throughout the region. 3: Consider a Traffic Demand Analysis to determine if existing infrastructure is appropriate for current and future traffic needs. 4: Encourage Thumb Area Transit to identify ways to improve public transportation use. 5: Expand available connections between Port Austin Township and nearby metro areas and airports. 19

20 Goal 3 Preserve qualities that promote an aesthetically pleasing community. A: Ensure residential and commercial properties conform to the Port Austin Township Zoning Ordinance. 1: Review code violation remedies to ensure they are clear in intent and are widely understandable. Include these procedures on the Township website, at the Township office,and in code violation notices sent to property owners. 2: Work proactively with owners of blighted properties to identify a rehabilitation plan that addresses code violations. 3. Target underutilized, obsolete or vacant buildings or spaces for redevelopment. Create a redevelopment plan by engaging the community on a better use for specific sites. B: Connect residents with healthy food choices that are easy to access, abundant and affordably priced. 1: Create a Farm to School Initiative and/or a Community Supported Agriculture Initiative to connect the agricultural industry s products to local schools, restaurants and food stores. C: Promote community features that uphold an interesting and scenic place. 1: Start a beautification initiative targeting improvements around points of interest and other areas with high visibility. 2: Partner with local organizations and volunteers to add landscaping and greenery in targeted areas. 3: Protect views of Lake Huron by discouraging multi-story developments along the shoreline. 4: Inventory historic structures, places, and objects. Work with the State Historic Preservation Office to register these local assets. 5: Consider implementing a historic preservation overlay district. 6: Emphasize The Port Austin History Center by offering tours and marketing the site s features. 20

21 Goal 4 Prepare for all risks related to the ever changing Lake Huron shoreline. A: Prepare the Township infrastructure, emergency response systems and risk mitigation planning to manage any major storms and/or floods. 1: Ensure that the Township water management systems are adequate to accommodate any expected increases from storms. 2: Create a Township Hazard Mitigation Plan and a Emergency Preparedness Plan. 3: Coordinate with police, fire and ambulatory services in planning for natural disasters. 4: Along the coastline incentivize the preservation of open space. 5: Minimize added impervious surfaces and maintain native vegetation. 21

22 Goal 5 Preserve natural features that contribute to ecological stability, aesthetic value, opportunities for recreation, and the economy. A: Reduce resource consumption through education, policy initiatives and infrastructure improvements. 1: Develop a program to educate residents/businesses on practices to reduce energy consumption. 2: Improve current recycling programs. B: Protect the quality of natural resources through regulatory actions and education. 1: Work with property owners to reduce the amount of runoff entering natural systems. 2: Monitor water quality to ensure public safety at public beaches, streams, drainage ditches, access sites and various additional points along the shoreline. 3: Replace aging septic systems with a public sewerage system. 4: Implement a method to require regular inspections of private septic systems. C: Protect ecological diversity by managing invasive, endangered and overpopulated species. 1: Establish a policy to address overpopulation or endangered populations of animal/fish/avian species.. 2: Coordinate with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and regional environmental groups to establish an invasive species management strategy. 3: Work with community members to identify and report invasive species on the Michigan Invasive Species Network (MISIN) application. 22

23 Goal 6 Ensure housing options to accommodate residents of various economic status, household types, age ranges and living preferences. A: Expand housing diversity to meet future demographic needs. 1: : Encourage a need for more missing middle housing options. 2 : Recommend housing features that support aging in place (ramps, railings, retrofitted living spaces, etc.) as needed. Goal 6 Goal 7 Increase civic participation through a variety of outreach methods. A: Use a wide range of community engagement techniques to gather public sentiment for local projects. 1: Post information regarding public meetings in multiple public spaces and through a variety of mediums. 2: Use a combination of in-person engagement and remote participation. 3: Review which engagement techniques are effective and create a policy in response. 23

24 Future Land Use 24

25 Exploring Future Land Use The Master Plan and Future Land Use Map are tools to be used by the Planning Commission and Township Board during land use decision-making, capital improvement planning, development review, and ongoing reevaluation and refinement of the Township s ordinances. Because most current zoning /land use is already committed to long term usage, very little change is anticipated. Current land use includes the development of residential platted subdivisions bordering on Lake Huron. The current zoning of R-1, One Family Residence, along the shore seems unlikely to change. Inland from the lake most land is, and has historically been, used for agriculture. Much of the Township now zoned AG Agriculture is now enrolled a long term State preservation program, therefore, little change in usage is expected. Current Zoning/Land Use 25

26 CURRENT ZONING DISTRICTS: This district classification is designed to be the most restrictive of the residential districts intended to encourage an environment of predominantly low-density single-family dwelling units together with a minimum of other residentially related facilities and activities primarily of service to the residents in the area. R-2 MUTI-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL: This district classification is designed to permit the greatest density of residential uses allowed within the Township, which will generally serve as a zone of transition between nonresidential districts and any R-I District. It also permits other residentially related facilities designed to service the inhabitants of the area. AG AGRICULTURAL: This district classification is designed to preserve and encourage farming, animal husbandry, dairying,horticulture, forestry and other rural-type activities. Vacant areas, fallow land and wooded areas may also be included. This district classification also provides for non-farm single family dwellings on larger parcels. BUS GENERAL BUSINESS: This district classification is designed to meet the day-to-day convenience shopping and service needs of persons residing in nearby residential areas as well as to provide sites for more diversified business types. Further, it is designed to accommodate uses such as residential, offices, banks and personal services which can serve as transitional areas between single-family residential and commercial uses, and to provide a transition between major thoroughfares and residential districts in areas plotted in small lots. Certain automobile-related uses, waterfront uses, uses requiring larger parcels and/or featuring regional commercial uses are permitted after review by the Planning Commission. Uses in the General Business District shall be limited to uses allowed under Local, State, and Federal Law. IND INDUSTRIAL: This District Classification is designed to accommodate wholesale activities, warehousing and light industrial facilities as uses by right and more intense, heavy industrial facilities as uses authorized by special approval. The general goals of this use district include, among others, the following specific purposes: 1. To provide sufficient space in appropriate locations to meet the needs for all types of manufacturing in the Township. 2. To protect residential districts by separating them from manufacturing activities. 3. To promote manufacturing development which is free from danger of fire, explosions, toxic and noxious matter, radiation, and other hazards, and from offensive noise, vibration, smoke, odor and other objectionable influences. 4. To promote the most desirable use of land compatible with existing uses and development. 26

27 The following table provides an overview of several key standards for development in each of the current zoning districts. To review specific zoning definitions, regulations, and standards, consult the Township Zoning Ordinance. Table 1. Current requirements for Area, Density, Bulk, Height, and Yards by District Current Requirements for Area, Density, Bulk, Height, and Yards by District Zoning District % of Total Land Minimum Lot Size Maximum Height (ft) Minimum Yard Setback per Lot in Feet for Main Building Minimum Floor Area for Building (sq ft) Maximum Lot Coverage (% of lot) Area (sq ft) Width (ft) Stories Feet Front Each Side Rear R % 15, / % R-2 0.8% 15, / % AG 71.4% 15, / ,120 35% BUS 4.3% 15, ,120 75% IND 1.0% 25, / ,500 75% Relationship to the Master Plan The Master Plan describes the Township s goals, and objectives for future land use and community development. The Zoning Plan is based on the recommendations of the Master Plan and is the primary tool to guide planning for future development in the Township. 27

28 Appendices 28

29 Appendix A Port Austin Township Parcel Count and Principal Residence Exemption

30 Appendix B Port Austin Township Nearby Medical Facilities 30

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