Barry County is the crossroads of West Michigan. Nearly equi-distant from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and Lansing, the County is a popular bedroom community, where rural character and natural beauty blend with convenient access to major job centers.

Because of its location, the County faced two competing pressures.

On one hand, the County is home to lakes, woodlands, and high quality farmland. These irreplaceable natural assets give Barry a strong tradition of preservation in the County’s planning and zoning policies.

But the on the other hand, the County is part of the fast-growing West Michigan region, with metropolitan areas in four different directions creating intense growth pressure and rising housing costs.

When McKenna was brought in to update the County’s Master Plan, reconciling these two divergent trends was job number one. McKenna created a broad land use and transportation vision known as the “County Framework.” This over-arching plan designated specific growth and preservation zones, allowing the details of the plan to flow from a single geographic outline.

The process also involved rich community outreach, which took place at some of the many festivals and events that happen every summer throughout the County, and involved not only McKenna, but also a number of volunteer community members.

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