The City and Township of Grand Haven are located on the western side of the State of Michigan and sit along the scenic shoreline of Lake Michigan. Grand Haven’s coastal areas offer recreational, cultural, and environmental benefits to the community through a network of wetlands, beaches, sand dunes, and sensitive habitats. Homes along the shoreline are high-quality and high-value, and residents living in the near-shore area enjoy an exceptional quality of life defined by the coast.
However, coastal jurisdictions along the Great Lakes face a unique set of issues that require careful long-term management and careful policy solutions to properly address. While the Great Lakes provide enormous aesthetic and economic value, they are also dynamic systems that endanger, at times, those who live and play along their shores. As the water levels of the Great Lakes fluctuate annually and decadally, homes and infrastructure built along the shoreline can be at risk during times of high standing water levels and storms. During prolonged periods of low standing water levels, encroaching development can restrict the natural movement of wetlands, dunes, and other coastal systems, causing irreparable environmental damage. A range of government staff and departments are needed to fully protect development, human health, and sensitive natural resources in the near shorelands, and often local officials do not have access to the depth of information and data needed to make wise decisions.
The reports below for the City of Grand Haven and Grand Haven Charter Township are the result of a research project titled Developing Land Use Regulations and Infrastructure Policies to Implement Great Lakes Shoreland Area Management Plans, conducted from January to December of 2016. The purpose of the project was to develop a range of policy options that each local government might consider adopting in order to better protect their coastal areas and to address challenges related to changing water levels on the Great Lakes. These reports outline challenges identified by local officials and summarize policy options that the two communities might adopt in order to protect their coastal areas through various policies and ordinances.