Monday, November 2, 2009

Hillsdale County Comprehensive Land Use Plan

The 2002 Hillsdale County Comprehensive Land Use Plan can be downloaded from

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Changes desired in Hillsdale County

Consolidated list of changes people desired in Hillsdale County over the next 20 years:

- More positive attitude and accepting of change
- Downtown functioning well
- Consolidation in government – in terms of pooling resources
- County public transportation/transit and advanced transportation (high speed rail)
- Expansion of hospital
- Vocational training
- Countywide recreation system
- Preserved rural character
- Consolidated schools and improved schools and services
- Extend US-127 from Jackson to I-80 as a limited access highway
- Intergovernmental cooperation (communities and schools)
- Preservation of natural resources
- Leader in AG economy and renewable energy
- More progressive in our thinking
- Full or close to full employment
- Countywide technology (internet, etc)
- Strong economic development adequately funded and supported with clearly defined responsibilities
- Four K-12 school districts and Four K-6 districts
- Government is limited and governs by constitutional law
- More fairness and human integrity
- Vibrant communities (with lots of community events)
- Preservation of farmland and green spaces
- Diversified base of employment
- Fully restored and occupied downtown
- Sustained farms and farmers
- Bigger badder fair

Future Vision for Hillsdale County

Participants were asked to brainstorm at least 10 things that they what like to see changed or different about Hillsdale County in next 20 years. Also, each group was asked to identify the top three issues from each their lists.

(Note: an '*' symbolizes the number of votes each statement received)

- Attitude change **
- Downtown functioning well **
- Schools working together *
- Consolidation in government **
- Strong regional economic development *
- County public transportation **
- Expansion of hospital ***
- Locally owned companies
- People choosing Hillsdale County
- Still have our rural character **

- Good road system ****
- Countywide public transit **
- Vocational training **
- Countywide recreation system **
- Expanded non-motorized trail system
- Improved high school education *
- Small diversified industry *
- Youth activities and opportunities
- Preserved rural character **
- Intergovernmental and school cooperation

- Expanded senior services *
- Utilize seniors for employment *
- Consolidated school services ***
- Advanced communications **
- Countywide transportation system ***
- Alternative energy **
- Arts and craft
- Expansion of Hillsdale College
- County wide bike trails *
- Rural identity preserved ***

- Extend US-127 from Jackson to I-80 as a limited access highway ****
- Extend high speed rail from Detroit to Chicago with some kind of connection to Hillsdale County
- Renewable energy
- Attractions for the creative class *
- Age diversity
- Hillsdale college more connected with Hillsdale County as a cultural/recreational attraction *
- Intergovernmental cooperation (communities and schools) ****
- Fully employed population *
- Preserve rural environment including clean air/water **
- Preservation of natural resources ****
- Center for regional agriculture in tri-state region
- Citizens knowledgeable of advantages of clean/healthy environment
- 100% literacy *

- More progressive in our thinking **
- Act and behave more cooperatively *
- Full or close to full employment **
- Universal healthcare *
- School system consolidation *
- Countywide technology (internet, etc) **
- Home and school working together *
- Quality of life – more or better opportunities *
- Integration of new and old (preserve the old and blend in the new)
- More positive attitudes, accepting of change ****
- More influence from faith related institutions
- Self sustaining community (economically and socially) *

- Advance transportation – high speed rail (passenger and freight) *******
- Strong economic development adequately funded and supported with clearly defined responsibilities ******
- Leader in Ag economy ***
- Full utilization of IT’
- 85% of high school grads will attend and graduate from a college or university and return
- Community center **
- Regional Trails
- More diversified work force **
- 4 K-12 school districts and 4 K-6 districts ****
- Continue to implement smart growth

- Government is limited and governs by constitutional law ***
- Standing room only in churches and township meetings *
- Improved schools ***
- Growing economy with plenty of jobs
- Better roads **
- More fairness and human integrity ***
- Healthy happy family still in Hillsdale County and still Americans **
- Respect for heritage *
- Vibrant recreational activities

- Good water quality and clean air
- Vibrant communities (with lots of community events) ***
- Preservation of farmland and green spaces ****
- Activities for youth and children
- Increased tourism
- Well maintained neighborhoods and pride in community
- Diversified base of employment **
- Be a center for arts, artists and cultural activities
- Improved infrastructure, particularly street roads

- No food banks or hunger *
- Full employment with diversified employment base **
- Consolidated schools **
- Improved parks and family recreation
- Roads
- Less government – limited
- Fully restored and occupied downtown ****
- Sustained farms and farmers ***
- Many events/venues (restaurants and movie houses) with a full community calendar **
- Bigger badder fair ***

Weaknesses and strengths for economic development

The participants were asked to identify some of the weaknesses in Hillsdale County and then discuss possible ways in which those weaknesses could be converted to strengths to spur economic development.

Click here to view summary discussion

Hillsdale County Assets from Picture Hillsdale Community Visioning

October 21, 2009 (# of participants: Thirty-eight)
October 22, 2009 (# of participants: Sixteen)

The following is a list of Hillsdale County assets identified by the community visioning participants:

- Public Safety
- Clean Air
- Beauty (Lakes and Rolling Hills)
- Recreation (Lakes, Baw Beese & North County Trail, Hunting and Fishing)
- Pool of talented people (retired and new residents)
- Abundance of agricultural base (for economic development)
- Water Quality
- Wind Energy
- Hillsdale College and the cultural opportunities offered by it
- Local units of government are fiscally adaptable
- Better than average school system
- Location – close enough to urban hubs yet secluded enough
- Historic Downtown
- Good senior center
- Airport
- Hospital
- Popular fair
- Library
- Opportunity for arts
- Active churches
- Antiques
- Amish Community
- Generosity through community foundations and individuals
- Back to basics kind of people
- Family based community
- Lower cost of living
- Availability of Brownfield sites for development
- Available workforce and housing
- Rail Access

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Picture Hillsdale Community Visioning

The results from the October 21st, 2009 Picture Hillsdale Community Visioning Session will be posted here for residents to review, provide feedback and help articulate an asset based growth strategy for Hillsdale County.

What Hillsdale County Residents Want: Online Survey Results

Download the complete ‘Picture Hillsdale County Survey Report' or download the 'Survey Summary'.

The Picture Hillsdale County Online survey is the first phase of an extensive community engagement process. The main objective of this survey was to develop and deploy a strategic community development survey online that would allow the residents of Hillsdale to voice their vision for the county. The above reports present the results of the online survey for responses provided by residents from March 26, 2008 to November 1, 2008. The survey represents the concerns and opinions of 463 residents (1% of the total population) who took the time to complete the online survey.

A majority of respondents prefer a rural/farm area as a place of residence and most stated that the rural character of Hillsdale County is important and worthwhile to preserve. Availability of good schools, high speed Internet access, parks and natural areas, slower pace of rural life and recycling/garbage collection were the five most important aspects that residents seek in Hillsdale County.

Residents would like to see the community add more small-scale retail, light industry, health care facilities and expand countywide public services. They would also like to see the county pursue some asset-based economic development strategies by promoting tourism and outdoor recreational opportunities and expanding the county’s large agricultural base to promote agri-business and an alternative energy industry. Sixty (60%) of the respondents stated that they would be willing to pay an additional assessment for recreational facilities like parks, nature preserves and greenways.
New industrial development should be placed in existing industrial parks close to cities and villages in order to share services. New businesses and commercial development should utilize an alternative pattern of development like Brownfield and infill development where businesses are grouped together with shared parking allowing people to walk to businesses.

With regards to present land-use regulations, respondents agree that division of farmland into smaller residential tracts will be detrimental to the county’s agricultural base and quality of life and unregulated growth will cost the taxpayers more in Hillsdale County for public services. They voiced support for organized and balanced growth, for the implementation of development controls to improve the quality of life, for the enforcement of laws to regulate junkyards and other nuisances in Hillsdale County and for making use of programs like community and housing revitalization programs and purchase of development rights programs to preserve farmland and improve communities in Hillsdale County.