The Joyfield Township Master Plan was adopted on July 17, 2014. Based on the vision laid out in this plan, the Township has crafted a draft zoning ordinance to guide the Township’s development and preservation. It is available for review at the link below:


A bit of history from the Introduction to the Lakes to Land Community Master Plan…

Reverend Amariah Joy, a Baptist minister from Putney, Vermont, filed Benzie County’s first homestead claim on July 11, 1863 and quickly discovered the realities of life in the wilderness: few people and even fewer roads. He and his wife Frances settled their homestead of 160 acres and spent their first winter in relative isolation, the nearest neighbor over four miles away.

One of those neighbors was Charles E. Bailey, who suggested the name Joyfield for the area’s first post office in 1864, which Joy served as postmaster for 19 years. He also preached the first Baptist sermon in the Grand Traverse region, conducted its first baptism of that denomination, and organized churches along the northwestern coast to serve the large number of Free Will Baptists who had emigrated from Canada.

Like all townships in Benzie County, Joyfield Township was part of once-massive Crystal Lake Township. In 1861, the area that would become Joyfield, Homestead, Inland, Weldon, and Colfax townships separated under the name Benzonia Township; each of the townships organized individually in 1867.

Amariah Joy was the new township’s first Supervisor. He was succeeded in 1883 by his son, William A. Joy, and a year later by Charles H. Palmer. Born in Gowanda, New York in 1833, Palmer was a young teacher with a wandering foot. He found his way to Ecuador and eventually California, where he was when the Civil War broke out. He enlisted in 1861. Afterward, he made his Michigan homestead claim in 1866 and resumed teaching while clearing his land for planting. Eventually his farm boasted a respectable 30 cultivated acres, including 1,500 fruit trees and a unique specialty in nut cultivation. He served as Superintendent of Joyfield Township schools and later Justice of the Peace.

By 1883, the community’s two schoolhouses were bursting at the seams with 73 children, and about 15% of Benzie County’s population lived in Joyfield Township. The population slowly declined after the turn of the century. Some residents moved on to new frontiers, while others headed south to seek steady employment in Michigan’s growing industrial sector. Joyfield’s post office closed permanently on September 30, 1903.

Joyfield Township was then as it remains now: unspoiled beauty, farmers and ranchers living in sync with the seasons, retirees and young families spreading out to enjoy the best that Michigan has to offer. It neatly encloses the intersection of M-115 and US 31: close to everything, yet just the right amount of far away.


JOYFIELD — 21 Comments

  1. I’m disappointed that the Lakes to Land initiative is not aggressively addressing the current scheme by Betsy Evans, Kurt Krueger ( planning commissioners), Matt Emery, Jim Evans ( Township board candidates) and others, to control land use for nearly a mile around their respective properties by applying for ‘heliport’ licenses. Your lack of action implies approval. Planning which represents all township interests is the goal. Self-serving schemes have no place here. I ask again that you sever your ties with the Joyfield planning commission until a more balanced commission can be formed.

    • Thank you for your comment, and we certainly understand your concern. As professional planners, we view this as an issue for discussion at the planning commission meetings as we go through the process of writing Joyfield’s master plan.

  2. I echo Tom’s concerns and wonder how you as professional planners can work with those who have set up this scheme. This has to go against everything you stand for. I too would ask that you explain to the Township Board that this is not the type of group you wish to work with. There are many in our township who are very upset twith this commission. Discussion at the planning comission meetings will go no where. They have their agendas and those agendas do not include all residents of Joyfield Township.

  3. I would urge you to stop working with the current planning commission and ask that you ask the Towhship Board to re-appoint appropriate members. Betsy Evans and Kurt Krueger are into scheming, not planning. They have no place on the planning commission.

  4. As professional planners, we are very cognizant of the divide in the community brought about the the issue of commercial wind. Recognizing that the community is divided, we are purposefully working in a transparent fashion which supports community engagement and openness. We are encouraging all residents to attend the Planning Commission meetings and work toward a common vision for the future of the Township.

  5. I’m concerned that the planning commission in Joyfield continues to move forward without the members receiving any real education: and is it true that lakes to land staff aren’t attending the planning commission meetings? I’d rather our townships future is not to be determined by a group who has consistently demonstrated bias against the interests of a significant number of township residents and is proceeding without restraint. I’m disapointed in them and in Lakes to Land.

    • Hi, Tom. Thanks for your comment.

      L2L consultants have not been in attendance at several meetings where the Joyfield Township Planning Commission has been in the process of reviewing materials and maps. We also acknowledge that consultants were not in attendance at the last meeting due to consultant attendance at a special training program sponsored by the State of Michigan regarding their new programs. The Planning Commission is new but they have been very diligent in accomplishing work tasks and allowing the public in attendance at their meetings access to the process. They also, at their request and initiative, convened a special meeting to solicit input from the Joyfield Township agricultural community.

  6. You might consider a newsletter. Remember, the pressures of life being what they are, not everyone can attend either the Lakes to Land or township meetings….but everyone has a mailbox. Additionally, how about posting a copy of the proposed land use map from the commissions’ last meeting so that people might get a glimpse of what is being planned for the residents of this township.

  7. You state that you are “….purposefully working in a transparent fashion which supports community engagement and openness…..” Hardly. By advising our planning commissioners to not release the current master plan draft to the public you are leaving the door wide open to accusations ( rightfully or not)of secrecy and corruption. With the exception of Mike Evans we do NOT trust and have no reason to trust these commissioners, particularly Betsy Evans and Kurt Kruger who in the not so distant past, resorted to fraud in order to get their way in regard to land use. I have no confidence in this planning commission or in Beckett and Raeder to produce an acceptable plan for this township. For the good of us all I wish you could prove me wrong.

    • Hello, Tom. The Joyfield Township Master Plan has now been released for public review – please click the button above to go to the page and download the document. It has always been the intention to provide a forum for public comment on the plan! However, the Planning Commission is the entity charged by the Michigan State Legislature with the responsibility to prepare and adopt a community’s master plan, and as such, it is fair to allow them to offer a completed draft for comment. As you know, the planning commission meetings and work sessions have been open to the public. Thanks for following this so closely, and I look forward to your thoughtful review of the plan!

  8. I’m surprised that after this past year’s uproar in regard to a proposed county level blight ordinance and the low level of interest expressed by the township residents, that blight continues as one of the plans cornerstones. To encourage something that will be difficult and expensive for our township to regulate and enforce is irresponsible. I’m also concerned that business properties will be relegated to some sort of a commercial ghetto at the northern tip of the township. It’s my belief that this will have a stifling effect on our economy.
    I’m concerned too at the very subjective view of what of what might constitute height restrictions that “fit the rural character…” Keeping in mind the aggressive stance and actions of this “planning” commission in regard to commercial grade wind power, I have no doubt that this item will be used as a tool…a weapon if you will, to create an obstructive wind energy zoning ordinance. Once again and not to be harsh, but we do not trust the current planners and township board to represent ALL of our residents in an unbiased manner. Remember: two members of the planning commission Betsy Evans and Kurt Kruger and two township board members Matt Emery and Jim Evans resorted to fraud through the state of Michigan Aeronautics Commission to create imaginary heliports in an attempt to block a proposed wind farm development.
    Thomas Hart
    Joyfield Township

  9. Let it be known that I agree with Tom,Deb,and Danielle’s concerns. I would also like to point out that when Diane & I purchased our property (an old Smeltzer homestead) in 1990,the main selling point for us was that the township was not zoned,and we hope that it stays that way!

  10. Yeah…whichever side you take on this issue,no zoning is better than bad zoning every time.

  11. The below was sent to both Lakes to Land and Betsy Evans asking why I and also the Farm community were not notified of this Meeting on the 16th of January as I have explained – The farmers ether Cattle or Crop are considered a Business both by the State and Federal government having tax ID numbers that list their Business Location where their farming is done.

    Sent 1-12-14
    I would like an explanation as to why I did not receive notification
    for this meeting ? You go by my home business at least twice a day
    and I have had my home based business here for 13 years.
    Please explain this OVERSIGHT !

    Gary Gatrell, President
    A&A Painting Inc.
    6720 Mick Rd.
    Benzonia, MI 49616
    Cell 231-645-8832

    • Hi, Gary. Thanks so much for your comment. I understand that Betsy Evans has contacted you directly in reply to your inquiry, and I hope this answers your questions. For the benefit of readers here, I am posting this excerpt of her communication with me during a follow-up: “Farming is definitely a business, and the farm community session held in March 2013 was designed to gather their comments and input. Cottage businesses and home-based businesses are also an important part of our economy, but this meeting is focused on businesses that require commercial zoning or would be impacted by our zoning ordinance going forward.”

      • Then why wasn`t Smeltzers Orchard Co. the largest employer in Joyfield Twp. contacted? The state of Michigan dose not consider my business a COTTAGE BUSINESS. If I dont come under the commerical side of a business I would like that in writing that any ordinances that are passed for business in Joyfield Twp. wont effect or impact me.

        • DO I NEED COMMERICAL ZONING ? Tell me in writing any zoning that impacts business property in Joyfield Twp. wont effect me ! I believe any Attorney or Judge would say a BUSINESS IS A BUSINESS and I would be effected by a Business ordinance in this Twp

          • Hi, Gary. Thanks for your participation in the meeting last night. With regard to zoning, a home-based business is typically a permitted use in any district.

  12. It’s dissappointing that Joyfield has not continued to post their meeting minutes on this free website, in an effort to communicate their actions and decisions to the public. As the master plan process gets closer to the finale, isn’t it important to continue to reach out to the residents of the township they mean to regulate? This is a FREE opportunity for both resident and commission, as no one, not even residents can seem to get copies of meeting minutes free. Contrary to what the planning commission might think, there are people who are interested in what they are doing.

    • Hi, Robert. Thanks for your comment! The Joyfield Township Planning Commission jumped right into action and forwarded those minutes for inclusion. They’re up in the sidebar now.