Planning is central theme to the activities of the Networks Northwest Regional Planning and Community Development Department. Networks Northwest staff firmly believes and practices “planning” as a means for local units of governments and their residents to realize their unique community goals. The Networks Northwest's Regional Planning Department believes that the planning process begins and ends with local input and decision-making. With regards to policy work, staff will assist local units of government in developing and offering recommendations, resolutions, and position papers for policy action. Further, the Networks Northwest’s Regional Planning Department will partner with other stakeholders as necessary to educate, inform, or gather input from local communities about policy or legislative issues.
The majority of the Networks Northwest’s Planning & Policy Work is divided into the following issue areas:
Land Use: Land use policy and planning is the designation of land for a future use as determined by a local jurisdiction. Networks Northwest often serves as a technical assistance provider to local governments for the purposes of land use planning. Most often, these services are in the form of master plans and/or recreation plans.
Energy: Energy policy and planning includes activities around production, efficiency, and transmission.
Environment: The environment plays a central role to determining quality of life in northern lower Michigan. Environmental policy and planning work may include, but is not limited to activities surrounding water quality, air pollutants, deforestation, wildlife corridors, etc. Historically, Networks Northwest has provided assistance to a variety of local, state, and federal agencies with regards to identifying and protecting the region’s natural assets.
Housing: Providing housing choices to all residents in the regions continues to be a priority for much of the Networks Northwest’s service area. The Networks Northwest’s Regional Planning & Development Department works with local partners, both in the private and public sector, to ensure that the region’s workforce has access to safe, economical, and desirable housing.
Other: Staff will work with local groups and the regional planning agencies in the state to promote policies of greater than regional interest. Staff will attend meetings and conferences at the state level including (but not limited to) those hosted by Michigan Association of Planning (MAP), Michigan Association of Regions (MAR), Michigan Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Michigan State University (MSU), Michigan Solid Waste Advisory Committee (MSWAC), and National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).