Blaine Township Planning Commission’s work on its master plan has revealed strong support for a broad and challenging goal with applications throughout the region: simultaneously ensuring the viability of its farms while maintaining the scenic, rural character of the township. To find out what is needed to make this proposition a successful one, and to determine the roadblocks that could stand in its way, the planning commissioners decided to go right to the source by inviting the farming community to a public meeting on Monday, November 26.
Eight Blaine Township farmers and two Joyfield Township farmers met with seven members of the planning commission and township board for a lively discussion about farm viability. Independent of the specific content of the discussions—which was extremely valuable and will be used to formulate master plan recommendations— the very existence of the meeting was a triumph for the master planning process. The farming community is known to be fiercely protective of individual property rights and skeptical of regulation, a position that yielded an undoubtedly interesting discussion about planning and zoning strategies. Monday’s meeting helped open the door to better understanding of the agricultural issues facing Blaine Township and the Lakes to Land region. Members of the Initiative look forward to continuing this open communication with the region’s farming community to identify issues and develop strategies that support the economic well-being of agriculture in the region.