Land Use Planning
Ottawa County Groundwater
Over the last decade, Ottawa County residents and businesses have experienced issues related to groundwater, including reports of diminishing capacity and the presence of elevated levels of sodium chloride in some water wells.
In light of these issues, Michigan State University (MSU) was hired to conduct a comprehensive groundwater study for Ottawa County. This study confirmed the anecdotal reports: water levels in the deep bedrock aquifer system have been gradually declining over the last 20 years and, in certain areas of the County, sodium chloride levels in the bedrock aquifer are rising above recommended standards for drinking water and agricultural irrigation. Learn more »
- Spoonville Trail
The Spoonville Trail is a 4.2 mile north-south non-motorized pathway that will connect the Grand Rapids region to the shore of Lake Michigan, in a pathway network referred to as the “Grand Connection.” This is comprised of three trails: the North Bank Trail, the Idema Explorers Trail, and the Spoonville Trail. The Spoonville Trail is key because it utilizes a non-motorized pathway constructed as part of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s M-231 Grand River Bridge crossing.
Phase I of the Spoonville Trail was completed in 2016. Phase II of the Spoonville Trail, which is to be constructed in 2019, will be the first public trail in Michigan to traverse through the rolling picturesque ravines of a golf course. The Spoonville Trail offers unique opportunities unlike many trails in Michigan. A Native American Educational Terrace is planned as part of the project to showcase local Native American culture and heritage, as well as exhibit photographs of the historically significant artifacts uncovered during the construction of the M-231 bridge. This area is anticipated to be a popular destination for school field trips, as the information discovered there will be added to the school curriculum in Michigan.
- Non-motorized Pathway Plan
Ottawa County is home to many of West Michigan’s premiere recreational resources. Because of this, the Department has been working to highlight these assets and offer a unique experience to both residents and tourists by developing a series of pre-selected bike route maps for residents, tourists, and cyclists to showcase all of the great regional pathway and paved shoulder connections that exist in Ottawa County. These will include pre-selected restaurant and brewery tour maps, park tour maps, historical Ottawa tour maps, popular cycling route maps, festival tour maps, and many more. This information will eventually be available through a mobile-friendly website.
The Department also continues to seek opportunities to assist in expanding Ottawa County’s non-motorized network. The Department was able to successfully raise the funds to construct an extra foot of paved shoulders along Lakeshore Drive for the remaining 5 miles to complete the route within its entirety. By 2021, users will be able to safely and easily travel from Grand Haven to Holland by bicycle.
- Farmland Preservation
Ottawa County boasts 171,883 acres of land in farms and produces over 506 million dollars worth of agricultural products on those acres, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The County’s long range land use planning is focused on preserving our productive farmland. Learn More »
- M-231 Bypass Project
The M-231 bypass project is a multi-phase project designed to reduce traffic congestion and travel times while improving emergency services in Ottawa County. The Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department has been working collaboratively with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and community stakeholders to construct the M-231 highway bypass.
The first phase of the M-231 highway passes through Crockery and Robinson Townships, connecting M-104/I-96 to Lake Michigan Drive (M-45). This segment features the seventh-longest bridge in Michigan and provides the fourth Grand River crossing in Ottawa County. The bridge also features the Sgt. Henry E. Plant Memorial Trail, a separated non-motorized pathway named after the local Civil War hero and Medal of Honor recipient. Both the roadway and trail were opened to traffic in October 2015.
Phase two of the M-231 bypass will connect Lake Michigan Drive (M-45) to US-31, Chicago Drive (M-121), and I-196. The Department is currently working with MDOT to secure funding, and providing assistance to local units to help preserve land along the corridor.MDOT map illustrating proposed route through southern Ottawa County
- Urban Smart Growth Demonstration Project
The Urban Smart Growth Demonstration Project is designed to serve as a model for creating community planning documents that improve the ability of local leaders to plan for future growth and development. Multiple award-winning documents have been developed for the City of Hudsonville through the Project. Hudsonville was selected as the Project’s designated demonstration site after an extensive selection process among other interested communities across the County. The documents that have since been developed for Hudsonville include a highly-visual, graphics-based architectural design elements portfolio, a city-wide master plan, and a city-wide form-based zoning code (in process). As a result of participating in this Project, the City of Hudsonville has secured itself as one of Michigan’s premiere communities in terms of taking a proactive, innovative approach to enhancing its vibrancy, livability, and aesthetic character through effective community planning. Learn more about how the results of this Demonstration Project are positively impacting sustainable community design and planning HERE.
- Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs)
Unlike every other county in the State of Michigan, Ottawa County is home to 3 MPOs. These MPOs include the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC), the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council (GVMC), and the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (MACC). MPOs are federally mandated organizations that enhance and facilitate regional collaboration and cooperation among transportation planning agencies.
The Planning and Performance Improvement Department developed a report to highlight the beneficial work conducted by the County's 3 MPOs as well as provide a resource for areas where more collaboration is needed to achieve a shared vision of future sustainability.
- West Michigan Pike
If you stop by the Department, you’ll likely notice a new artifact on display in our lobby—an early 20th century West Michigan Pike Marker. This stone marker is one of many that historically guided motorists along the West Michigan Pike, a series of roads and state parks, that stretched from Michigan City, Indiana, up to Mackinac City. Recovered behind an abandoned house adjacent to Spring Lake Country Club (SLCC), this marker, along with another identical one, have generously been donated to the County by the SLCC for historical purposes. While one will stay on display for public viewing in the office, plans for the other marker include displaying it at local historical venues or museums. Staff is currently working with local historians on developing a route similar to the West Michigan Pike that could be enjoyed by motorists and cyclists.
- Remonumentation Program
As a result of the State Survey and Remonumentation Act (P.A. 345 of 1990), each county in Michigan is required to establish a Remonumentation Program to carry out the work of providing GPS locations for each public land survey corner, serving as the basis for all public and private property locations in Michigan. Once all those corners have been remonumented and GPS coordinates are set, each county is then required to enter into a “maintenance phase” to revisit each one and upkeep the previous work completed on those corners. In 2018, Ottawa County completed its first year of the maintenance phase and will continue to complete this work throughout the life of the Program.
- Standardized Mapping
The Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department continues to work with local units of government throughout the County to encourage and facilitate the adoption of Standard Land Use District Titles and Colors for master plan and zoning maps.
Standardization will allow for easy viewing of commercial, retail, and industrial properties across the County on a single map, reducing the time and effort staff and consultants spend analyzing local zoning ordinances and master plans. It will also give citizens a better understanding of the location and type of land use districts in their community and in surrounding communities. Standardization does not change density, use, or any other local zoning ordinance and comprehensive land use plan requirements that have been adopted by local units of government. Learn More »
- West Michigan Transit Linkages Study (2012)
This Study was conducted to assess existing transportation services, determine the need for expanded regional commuter transportation services between major urban centers in Ottawa, Muskegon, and Kent Counties, and determine the feasibility of developing, implementing and operating a regional transportation network. Learn more by reviewing the reports:
- Musketawa Trail/Triick Farm Impasse Report and Recommendations (2011)
In 1991, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) purchased 24.5 miles of inactive railroad from the Central Michigan Railroad for recreational trail purposes. This includes a section of corridor east of 8th Avenue that runs adjacent to the Triick Family Farm. This particular railroad bed is a small section of an overall DNR plan to connect the Musketawa Trail in Ottawa County to the White Pine Trail in Kent County. Learn More »
- Tree Legacy Committee (2010)
The Tree Legacy Committee was created in 2006 in order to maintain and improve the aesthetic beauty of tree canopies along scenic roads in Ottawa County, such as Lakeshore Drive. After creating a proposed Tree Planting Policy, efforts were pursued to amend State legislation to limit any potential liability that a County Road Commission may have for trees planted in the Road Right-of Way, and to allow County Road Commissions to create special road designations (e.g. Legacy Roads) that accommodate closer tree plantings to enable tree-canopies to be established. The effort continues.
- Countywide Corridor Studies (2004)
The Ottawa County Countywide Corridor Plan was created in an effort to provide a framework from which to comprehensively plan for future traffic demand in the County and to preserve the aesthetic character of the County's overall roadway system. In order to accomplish the goals set forth in the Plan, it was decided that studies would be completed on each corridor to assess the need for future expansions, aesthetic preservation, and improved access management. The North-South Corridor Study and M-104 Corridor/Access Management Study have been completed.
- Road Salt Management (2004)
Winter application of road salts used to ensure motorist safety can contribute to elevated levels of sodium chloride in the glacial aquifer. Starting in the early 2000’s, the County began studying the impacts of road salt on the environment (with an emphasis on impacts to blueberry crops), and put into motion a mitigation plan. Since the plan went into action, the Ottawa County Road Commission has reduced road salt usage by as much as 30%. The County will continue to investigate the impacts of road salts, and consider additional options to lessen their effects. The mitigation plan earned a 2008 NACO Achievement Award. Learn More
- Model Ordinances
The Department has designed several Model Ordinances that can be utilized by local units of government in Ottawa County. These ordinances are provided below, with the Ottawa County Model Wind Energy Ordinance earning a 2009 NACo Achievement Award:
Contact the Planning and Performance Improvement Department for more information about other projects completed prior to 2009.
- Spoonville Trail