Greening Mid-Michigan is a regional vision for green infrastructure planning for Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties. This vision is the result of many key regional groups collaborating over a three year period. Partners include TCRPC, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, The Greater Lansing Regional Committee for Stormwater Management, Clinton and Eaton Conservation Districts, the Land Use and Health Resource Team, local and county park and recreation departments, Ingham and Clinton Agricultural and Open Space Preservation Programs, and many others.
In 2010, a green infrastructure planning workshop was held that attracted approximately 150 participants from across the region, representing local and county government, non-profit agencies and non-governmental entities. Participants in the workshop were able to sketch out a system on mylar maps that represent how they would like to see a green infrastructure system connect throughout the greater region. The workshop outcome provided a vision for a connected network of green infrastructure amenities. Michigan Natural Features Inventory digitized the workshop map sketches and developed a poster plan that will guide local land use decisions as they relate to green infrastructure and land use.
In 2010, TCRPC was awarded a Moving Our Communities Towards Health grant through the Ingham County Health Department to promote land use policy change. As a result, TCRPC contracted with the Michigan State University School of Planning, Design and Construction Urban Collaborators Program to design an interactive green infrastructure toolkit on the existing www.greenmidmichigan.org website. The toolkit includes discussion and examples of seventeen green infrastructure planning tools that can be implemented in our region. The toolkit includes a blog function that allows for readers to comment on the various tools. In addition, the Poster Plan was promoted throughout Ingham County by TCRPC staff and Resolutions of Support for the project were acquired from ten local governments as of December 2011.
The first of the RGP implementation committees, the Land Use and Health Resource Team (LUHRT) is a collaborative effort in the tri-county, mid-Michigan area that involves planners, academia, business and public health personnel who meet monthly. Key team members include the Ingham County Health Department, Mid-Michigan Health District, the Eaton-Barry County Health District, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, and Michigan State University Extension. The purpose of the Team is to educate and engage the community regarding impacts of the built environment on health and is an implementation activity of the Regional Growth Project. The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission is an active partner on the Team, with the Executive Director serving as the chair, and land use planner Gmazel serving as main staff support.
The Team increased its efforts to engage the Eaton/Barry District Health Department and the Mid-Michigan District Health Department. LUHRT members, MSU Extension and the Ingham County Health Department also applied for and were selected for a U.S. Centers for Disease Control grant: Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and Environmental Change (ACHIEVE). Gmazel is serving as a member of the grant's Community Health Action Response Team (CHART) on behalf of TCRPC and the Regional Growth Project. The ACHIEVE process is designed to implement a "change tool" to improve health outcomes within the City of Lansing. To this end, CHART collected data and looked at City policies related to tobacco and smoking, walkability, food availability, public will and leadership related to health issues. An Action Plan was submitted to the CDC in late 2010, and the Plan and CDC recommendations will be incorporated into a toolkit that will be re-measured every two years.
In addition, TCRPC staff acquired two grants from the Michigan Department of Community Health through the Ingham County Health Department to promote the development of Complete Streets Ordinances in the City of East Lansing and in Lansing Charter Township. TCRPC staff responsibilities include the development of a work plan, quarterly reporting to the Health Department and facilitation of the Ordinance Committee and/or coordination of public input opportunities as needed.
The Urban and Rural Service District/Urban Service Boundary Committee (URSD/USB) is the second of the ongoing RGP implementation committees. This Committee meets monthly to discuss regional cooperation in designating an urban service (water and sewer) boundary and the efficient sharing of services between jurisdictions.
The URSD/USB Committee was awarded a Partnerships for Change: Sustainable Communities research grant through the Land Information Access Association (LIAA). LIAA is a non-profit planning firm based on northern Michigan with staff who work across the state to facilitate regional cooperation and other local service partnerships. LIAA staff facilitated the development of a Tri-County Urban Services Management Study.
The Study outlined a feasible strategy for implementing an urban service boundary within the committee membership's jurisdictional boundaries. The Committee members include Lansing, East Lansing, the nine urbanized townships surrounding the two cities, Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties, and a few outlying county jurisdictions such as Williamstown Township and the City of Mason. Prior to the commencement of the Study, the Committee members completed a Community Collaboration Survey, reporting that almost every member felt that the time was right for the development of an urban service boundary. With this understanding, committee attendance has been engaging and conversations related to the development of a boundary have been notably positive between members.
TCRPC maintains an informational web site, www.greaterlansingurbanservice.org, for public use and as an interactive communication function for URSD/USB Committee members. The site was created through a Centers for Regional Excellence grant award in 2006. The site was designed to encourage collaboration and communication between member communities.
Regional Growth: Choices for Our Future — This project, which began in 1997, was developed on the premise that some growth trends have very negative impacts on the quality of life in our region but with proper planning and management these trends could be modified to minimize impacts. One of these impact areas is transportation and the demands that new growth places on the system and its users. With this in mind, we linked the Regional Growth project to the Long Range Transportation plan which establishes future priorities for transportation projects.
This initial planning phase of the project was completed in 2003 with adoption of the Regional 2025 Transportation Plan. Most recently, the Regional Growth project policy map and 29 regional themes have been re-endorsed and adopted as part of the updated Regional 2030 Transportation Plan. This important step has set the path for implementation of the findings of this project by utilizing the themes and principles, along with the policy map, as criteria for establishing priorities for transportation funding handled by the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the region. To further implementation activities, the TCRPC fully funded a full-time land use planning staff person in 2008 directed specifically at the implementation activities of the Regional Growth project.
Since its inception, has acquired Resolutions in Support of the policy map and principles. At this time a total of 43 cities, villages, townships and counties have adopted a Resolution of Support. In addition to these resolutions by local government bodies, thirteen letters of support have been received from area non-profits, non-governmental agencies, transportation agencies and state departments. Implementation of the Regional Growth project is ongoing. Three committees have been meeting regularly to address issues that have been highlighted as part of the Regional Growth project (RGP) planning process. These Committees are facilitated by the Land Use program at TCRPC.
Since 2009, TCRPC has been a provider of credit opportunities under the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Certification Maintenance program. In 2007 the AICP organization launched an ongoing professional development program that requires an AICP planner to completed 32 training credits, acquired by attending 32 hours of training, within a two-year period. As a provider, TCRPC has provided free credit opportunities to the region's practicing planners. Staff member Gmazel will continue to schedule certification maintenance opportunities throughout the region in 2012.
TCRPC continues a monthly series of brown bag lunches for all area planners. The lunches are hosted by planning departments located throughout the region, and are well-attended by regional, county, state and local planners, and planners from academia. Local policy makers have also attended the lunches. At most of the lunches, special presentations are made by either the host community, or by a guest speaker. This informal networking opportunity for the area's eighty or so practicing planners has been well-received and will be continued into 2012 on an every-other month basis.