By Mike Kruzman /

Genoa Township officials have kicked off work on updating the master plan.

The master plan is a document that serves as a guide for how municipalities wish to set up for future development. It is required that each governing body at least renew, if not update their plan, every five years. Genoa Township began the process in earnest, Tuesday night, with a joint meeting of the Board of Trustees, Planning Commission, and Board of Appeals.

Township Supervisor Bill Rogers said recent world events will play a role. He said they are hitting this a rather unique time, post-pandemic, knowing that a lot of people started working at home and some may stay there. Along with what’s happening in retail spaces, Rogers said it was good to have everyone together in the beginning here to emphasize the themes from the night and make sure they address them.

Representatives from the planning consulting firm Giffels Webster were present to steer the discussion. They went over a visioning study from township stakeholders. Board and commission members found top strengths in their financial stability, low taxes, natural features and rural character. Their weaknesses of economic development, a lack of trails and pathways and amenities were turned into possible opportunities to think about. Top threats to the township were perceived to be too much retail space, a lack of flexible housing, and a need for better internet.

Officials then took part in a series of exercises where they identified what they feel is working and what isn’t for both the residential and non-residential districts of the township. Early strategies like allowing smaller units of housing in a walkable environment or using pop-up space to help the township differentiate itself from Brighton and Howell were used to get officials thinking about possibilities as the process continues. Officials then identified areas on a township map where they thought sites ideal for development were located.

Trustee Jim Mortensen pointed out the electrification of cars and the potential of robotic deliveries. He encouraged his colleagues to hold an outlook of flexibility in this master plan update, stating because “the future comes rapidly.”

The reps from Giffels Webster said they will take all this information and work now more closely with the Planning Commission in the future months, before potentially hosting an open house for the public in the fall.