By Lonnie Huhman,

With the updated master plan, the city of Chelsea has set out some strategies to help guide potential development in the community.

The plan was adopted by a unanimous vote of the council on Aug. 19.


It was presented to the council by Community Development Director Julia Upfal, who said the plan aims to cover different facets of and potential growth throughout Chelsea.

The city defines the Master Plan as including, “guidelines and recommendations to manage and prioritize growth and development to preserve the health, safety, and general welfare of the Chelsea community.”

It includes sections on land use, transportation, economic development, heritage and culture, healthy communities, age friendliness, recreation and entertainment, and environmental quality.

The plan was first presented to City Council for consideration late in 2017, after it was approved by the planning commission earlier in that year.

At that time by a unanimous vote, the council tabled the plan and then set out to further review it with the planning commission. According to council meeting minutes, there were some concerns regarding policy statements, future land use map, matrix and other items that needed to be addressed before the plan could be finalized.

A subcommittee of the council and planning commission worked on the outstanding issues, and the plan was again presented back to the planning commission this past spring and went through further review before being presented during public hearings.

The planning commission approved the updated version last month.

Noting the time and effort put in, Councilwoman Jane Pacheco said she was glad the plan was now in place and the community could move on to the next steps of the potential growth everyone would like to see.

Mayor Pro Tem Cheri Albertson said although the plan is not a legislative document, it is a governmental document that potential developers will need to review and understand.

According to the city, the Master Plan is used in a variety of ways, “but most importantly, the plan is a general statement of the City’s goals and policies and provides a single, comprehensive view of the community’s desires for the future.”

The following four paragraphs are excerpts from the plan explaining how it is used:

The plan also serves as an aid in daily decision-making. The goals and policies outlined in the plan guide the Planning Commission, City Council, and other City bodies in their deliberations on zoning, development proposals, capital improvements, and other matters related to land use and development.

The plan provides the statutory basis upon which zoning decisions are made. The Michigan Planning Enabling Act (P.A. 33 of 2008, as amended) requires that the zoning ordinance be based upon a plan designed to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare. It is important to note that the Master Plan and accompanying maps do not replace other City Ordinances, specifically the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map.

The plan attempts to coordinate public improvements and private development supported by the Capital Improvements Plan. For example, public investments in transportation, infrastructure, or public space should be concentrated in areas identified in the Master Plan which will result in the greatest benefit to the City and its residents.

“Finally, the Plan serves as an educational tool and gives citizens, property owners, developers and adjacent communities a clear indication of the city’s direction for the future,” the plan states.

Chelsea Mayor Melissa Johnson said drafting, reviewing and approving a Master Plan takes consideration and time.

“Now that the Master Plan has been approved, reviewing and updating our ordinances will be the next step,” Johnson said.

To see and review the plan, one can visit city hall or go to the city website at