Niles Township begins master plan update

Published 3:06 pm Wednesday, October 27, 2021

NILES TOWNSHIP — Niles Township is looking toward its future.

Tuesday evening, the Niles Township Board of Trustees and the Niles Township Planning Commission hosted a joint meeting to discuss its upcoming master plan. Once completed, the master plan will provide a road map and a vision for land use and development in the village for the next five to 10 years. It will outline goals and objectives for the future and is the principal guide directing land use policy.

The last master plan was completed in 2018, and Planning Commission Chair Peg Hartman expects the new master plan to be completed by late 2022 or early 2023.

“The purpose of tonight’s workshop is to take a look at our master plan, to identify goals, especially in terms of economic growth and protecting natural resources — basically, what do we want the township to be? What do we want the township to become?” Hartman said. “Typically, master plans are 15 to 20 years looking out.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, the planning commission and board of trustees discussed community-wide goals, the potential for economic growth, infrastructure, alternative forms of energy and future land use.

One of the main discussions was the potential to increase industrial business throughout the township. Treasurer Jim Ringler endorsed the idea, suggesting that a stretch of land along Mayflower Road be rezoned for industrial use, saying it is an ideal location due to its proximity to the US-31 bypass, US-12 and Niles-Buchanan Road.

“The fastest-growing sector that would help Niles Township out is industrial,” Ringler said. “[Industrial] has the quickest return for economic development.”

Hartman agreed that expanding industrial zoning would benefit the township.

Though Hartman said Tuesday’s meeting was a productive one, there are still many more steps in the master plan process. She said the township will review the current master plan, updated census information and community input to determine needed updates.

To gather community input, the township plans to host a public hearing in March 2022. In addition to in-person meetings, Hartman said the township is looking into text, social media and online surveys to gather resident feedback.

“The planning commission will continue to work on this,” Hartman said of the master plan. “Getting community feedback and input on this is critical. That is our next step.”