Land Use Planning Information>Cost of Community Services

Cost of Community Services
Cost of Community Services
A report commissioned by Calhoun County Community Development
And Calhoun County Farm Bureau
October 2001

This study was conducted to gain a better understanding of the financial impact of existing land uses. It was conducted in two townships in Calhoun County, Marshall and Newton. The study analyzed the financial demands of public services such as schools, fire, and road maintenance in different land use categories including farmland, forest and open space, residential, commercial, and industrial uses.

These townships, centrally located in the lower half of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, have been historically agricultural but are increasingly faced with growth and development pressures. Many other counties and townships throughout Michigan are experiencing similar pressures.


The Calhoun County Cost of Community Services findings demonstrate that while residential development contributes the largest amount of revenue, its net fiscal impact is actually negative. Commercial and industrial development offsets some of the shortfall, but the farm, forest, and open land sector is an essential component of the fiscal balance.

Several findings clearly demonstrated that farm, forest, and open lands are important to the fiscal stability of these two townships - and presumably to many other townships like them. This means that preferential property tax programs could be justified as a way to provide an incentive to keep land open and in active agricultural or forestry use.

Further, farm, forest and open land should not be considered interim uses awaiting conversion to their "highest and best" use. The results of the COCS study suggest that these land uses are of great fiscal value to local communities. Strategies to save land for future agriculturally related activities would be a good long-term investment. Besides supporting fiscal stability, active agricultural land benefits the local economy through jobs, sales, and products. In addition, farmers purchase materials, provide employment, spend money locally, and have a positive impact on other sectors of the economy. Farmland and open space also contribute to the scenic and environmental values that give this region its rural character.
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