Resilient Monroe is a land-use planning and community design project in southeast Michigan sponsored by the City of Monroe, Frenchtown Charter Township and Monroe Charter Township. Together, these three local governments are planning for successful, resilient community adaptation to the social, environmental and economic challenges presented by climate change.
The community of Monroe, Michigan, is an amazing, engaging and hopeful place. On the western shore of Lake Erie at the mouth of the River Raisin, Monroe has provided food, manufactured goods and transportation to human communities for centuries, from the Native Americans and French Voyagers through the workers and leaders who drove Michigan’s rise as an industrial powerhouse. Once known as the gateway to our nation’s Northwest Territories and an ongoing hub of Great Lakes transportation, the Monroe Community offers a diversity of economic, cultural and natural resources at a time of great change and opportunity — for Michigan and the nation.
Most communities across Michigan are wrestling with difficult economic, social and environmental challenges. The shifting global economy and statewide recession are forcing big changes in business practices and employment. State and federal funding is declining and new long-term assistance appears unlikely. Fuel and electrical energy costs are high and subject to unpredictable price spikes. Further, paying for basic energy supplies continuously siphons off community resources. Making matters worse, the harmful impacts of climate change on agriculture, infrastructure, and human health are being felt almost everywhere across Michigan.
These are turbulent times for many Michigan communities. However, with planning and preparation, communities can weather these storms and recover, becoming even better places to live and thrive. Through community-wide planning, resilient cities and townships actively cultivate their abilities to recover from adverse situations and events, working to strengthen and diversify their local economies and communications networks, increase social capital and civic engagement, enhance ecosystem services, improve human health and social systems, and build local adaptive capacity.
Early in 2013, the City of Monroe, Frenchtown Charter Township and Monroe Charter Township agreed to pool their resources and work together in reviewing and revising their respective master plans under the project name “Resilient Monroe.” Each of these local governments conducts land-use planning and community development separately under Michigan’s planning and zoning laws. However, when taken together, the three jurisdictions include the geographic area most people think of as the greater Monroe Community.
The Resilient Monroe project is designed to serve the whole community by supporting the work of all three planning commissions and the elected officials from each jurisdiction. Together, these public officials have formed a Community Planning Committee to review and consider the planning documents developed by the project. Research, planning and process facilitation services are being provided by the Land Information Access Association (LIAA) with support from the Community Foundation of Monroe County, Michigan Municipal League (MML), Michigan Townships Association (MTA), Michigan Association of Planning (MAP) and the Urban Planning division of the University of Michigan. Funding for this effort has been provided by the City of Monroe, Frenchtown Charter Township, Monroe Charter Township, the Kresge Foundation, and the Americana Foundation. Additionally, LIAA is contributing in-kind efforts.
In all cases, this community planning effort is following the familiar municipal planning processes established in the State of Michigan, including the requirements of the Michigan Planning Enabling Act (Public Act 33 of 2008) and the five-year plan review.
The Resilient Monroe Resource Atlas details the implementation of this project. The Resource Atlas was compiled to provide a wide variety of useful information to support the land use planning and community development process. The Atlas begins in Chapter 2 with an overview of community resilience from economic challenges to climate change. Chapters 3-6 describe and illustrate the wide array of community resources identified by the project, including human, natural and economic resources. Chapters 7-8 provide information on options for increasing community resilience, including enhancing economic diversity through placemaking projects and improving climate resilience by reducing human and assessed community vulnerabilities. Chapter 9 is a review of local and regional documents and plans that relate to each jurisdiction. Chapter 10 provides a detailed report on what the citizens have said about today’s challenges and their goals for the development of the Monroe Community over the coming decades. Discovered through interviews, focus groups, public meetings, working groups, a planning charrette, and a community-wide survey, the public’s hopes and dreams for Monroe will drive positive change. Chapter 11 in this Resource Atlas presents a compilation of options for local action that may be needed to achieve the goals of Monroe’s public officials, community leaders and citizens.
Project Outcomes and Conclusions
Ultimately, the Resilient Monroe project is all about helping the leaders and citizens of the greater Monroe Community refine their land use and development plans to adapt to unpredictable circumstances, many of which are partially or wholly beyond direct local control. This effort will support the City of Monroe in rewriting its existing Master Plan and assist the participating townships in reviewing their master plans — working toward greater community resilience.
Cowall, M. (2014). Resilient Monroe Resource Atlas. [Case study on a project of the City of Monroe, Frenchtown Charter Township, Monroe Charter Township, Monroe County, and Land Information Access Association (LIAA)]. Ed. Rachel M. Gregg. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/resilient-monroe-resource-atlas (Last updated June 2014)