Master Plan Draft for December 7, 2023 meeting

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The Helena Township Master Plan




Helena Township is located in the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan, in Antrim County, on the southeast side of Torch Lake.  The township is bordered by Clam Lake and Grass River to the north, Custer Township to the east; Clearwater Township to the south; and Torch Lake to the west.  The township is fortunate to have an abundance of over 74,809 linear feet of water resources including 35,321 feet on Torch Lake, 28,189 feet on Clam Lake, and 11,298 feet on Thayer Lake.

The challenge facing the planning commission and all citizens of Helena Township is to carefully plan and direct future growth in a thoughtful and orderly manner while retaining rural character, water quality, dark night skies, beautiful open space, small-scale village quaintness, and open roads.

The Helena Township Planning Commission is responsible for developing the master plan for Helena Township.  The first Helena Township Master Plan was adopted in 1978 with revisions made in 2002, 2009, 2016, and 2023.


The Master Plan document is designed to present policy, provide supporting documentation and to organize in one document general information regarding Helena Township’s history, funding, resources and infrastructure.

The material presented in the master plan is divided in two sections:

  2. GOALS


  1. Goals



Act 184 of 1943, the Township Zoning Act and Act 1682 of 1959, the Township Planning Act, which govern township zoning in the State of Michigan, require the zoning districts, established by the townships, be based on a plan to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare; to encourage the use of resources in accordance with their character and adaptability, to avoid overcrowding of land and buildings or people; to lessen congestion on public roads and streets; to facilitate provision for a system of transportation, sewage disposal, safe and adequate water supply, recreation and other public improvements; and to consider the character of each township and it suitability for particular uses judged in terms of such factors as the trend in land and population development.  In our master plan for Helena Township, individual property rights guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Michigan must not be infringed upon.


Helena Township, once known for lumbering and agriculture, is today almost entirely residential in nature.  Its character is defined principally by its natural features, including the enormously popular shorelines and vistas of Torch, Clam and Thayer Lakes, an abundance of forests, streams, rolling hills and scenic open spaces and the historic quaintness of the community of Alden.

Slowly at first and then rapidly in the 20th Century, Helena Township became a vacation-oriented area with increasing numbers of tourists and resorters.  Today the trend continues with the addition of more and more leisure-oriented retirees and year-round homeowners.

A small number of commercial establishments and the absence of heavy industry also define the character of Helena Township.

Therefore, growth in Helena Township must be as thoughtfully managed as possible in order to protect that very special residential and scenic character of the township and the quality of life associated with that character.  To that end, zoning regulations should be developed that seek broad public input on development issues through public hearings before the planning commission, but reserves to the township board, the final decision-making authority on proposed developments, consistent with state law.


Protection of natural resources, including the forests, open spaces and especially water resources, is of prime importance in growth management.  This includes protection of the underground aquifers and wetlands, as well as surface water on lakes and streams.

The use of individual wells and septic systems can continue to service township residences and businesses.  However, in regard to septic systems, the township will encourage the appropriate county and/or state officials to enforce health codes, require a schedule of inspection and require replacement of faulty septic systems.  The township should encourage the use of new technologies available for improved waste and sewage treatment.

The water-related geographical and natural resource attributes of the township have historically been, and will continue to be, the bedrock for of its popularity.  Protection of these should be the principal factor in any future development.

Growth will continue to focus on the lakes.  As the density of lakefront development, the size of shoreline residences, the appeal of secondary properties with scenic views and year-around use all continue to grow, environmental pressures and other threats to the township’s character will inevitably increase.  Thus, it is crucial that the township impose and enforce protective regulations and communicate with residents and business owners about the need for these types of regulations.


It is imperative that the following specific policy initiatives be undertaken:


A primary intent of the Helena Township Master Plan is to maintain an effective greenbelt buffer between human activities on land and the shoreline.

The Master Plan encourages guidelines to protect the shoreline, to protect water quality and to maintain the natural character of our rural lakes, rivers, and streams.

Road end and lake access sites must be protected and maintained.

Development practices that funnel or keyhole non-shoreline residences into shoreline property zoned R-1 or Village must be regulated in order to limit the development pressures on water quality and township character.

A greenbelt buffer is the best management practice recommended by both State and Federal natural resource agencies to accomplish the following goals:

  • Control erosion
  • Trap phosphorus and nutrient runoff
  • Protect property values that depend upon high quality water resources

Future development, particularly in areas with high water-table soils or close to water will have special needs.  Redevelopment with larger homes may change the character of the area.  Additions to existing residences may result in crowding or lack of open spaces.  Small lots have special problems of sewage disposal and separation of wells from sewage disposal systems.


Since the lakeshores are becoming increasingly developed with single-family homes and cottages, the “off-lake” properties with easy access and views face heavy development pressure.  Over 90 percent of the township is zoned Agriculture, while actual land use in the zone is primarily residential, with only approximately 12.5 percent of the zone dedicated to farming and forestry activities.

New Zoning regulations require landowners requesting development of parcels 10 acres or larger to submit site plans based on both the current zoning minimum two-acre splits to determine maximum density and an open space conservation design plan.

Incentives could be are offered to landowners for selecting the open space conservation design alternative.  Geographical Information Survey (GIS) maps, completed as part of the master plan process, will assist the land division committee, planning commission and property owners in implementing the open space preservation process.

The planning commission should also establish a process, using the natural resource inventory, to identify open space within the township that should be given a high priority for preservation and identify land that is more suitable for development.  After completing this process, the planning commission should explore implementing programs that would allow the transfer of development rights or the purchase of development rights to encourage the preservation of high priority open space.  In addition, the planning commission should explore implementing programs with the appropriate organizations to encourage property owners to voluntarily place permanent conservation easements on their land.

Housing developments planned on parcels larger than 10 acres are encouraged to use open space planning with possible incentives for cluster development.  These incentives allow for smaller lots in exchange for large open space preservation, allowance for pedestrian and non-motorized trail access, and preservation of established wildlife corridors or habitats.


Commercial areas will be proposed as population and demand increase.  In the village zoned area of Alden and Clam River, all contiguous residential areas without commercial use may be rezoned R-1 to protect the historic residential character of the neighborhoods.  Areas where current commercial and residential uses are contiguous, will continue to be zoned village.  New commercial areas must be rezoned.


Commercial and manufacturing activities, and any other activities which have the potential for air, water, light, noise, scenic pollution or which might otherwise intrude on Helena Township’s residential character must be reviewed.  Retirement and assisted living centers, high-tech and light industry, compatible with the township’s character, can be accommodated through an overlay zone.

The township, through the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) working with DABA (Downtown Area Business Association), should develop a long-term economic development plan consistent with the goals of this master plan.  Grants for roads, streetscape improvements and infrastructure development for high-speed data and voice communication to foster township based economic activity, including telecommuting should be a high priority.


The A ten-year 2.0 mil property tax was approved in November of 2023.  The township must follow the guidelines approved in the Helena Township Master Plan in establishing priorities for maintenance and improvement of roads consistent with road designation and their impact on current and future use.


The township has established a permanent roads and pedestrian safety committee to address citizens’ concerns regarding increased use of the primary county roads and residential secondary roads by commercial traffic.  Increased commercial traffic threatens pedestrian safety in Alden and has the potential to alter the township’s quiet, residential character.  The township will explore alternatives to address these issues.


The township will continue to evaluate ways to limit potential health, safety and water quality threats resulting from further gas and oil drilling, exploration, and production in Helena Township.


The Helena Township Master Plan recognizes the need to accommodate alternative energy systems, including commercial solar and wind systems, while protecting the public health, safety and welfare of the community.


The township may pursue designation of a section of the “village” zone in Alden as a “local historic district” under provisions of Public Act 169 of 1970 and may establish special design standards to maintain the historic quaint village charm of Alden.

NOTE FROM BONNIE:  re-word this.  Establishing as a historical district is very cumbersome for any future growth.


The Helena Township Parks & Recreation Committee shall establish a regular meeting schedule that is published annually and posted at the community center to encourage public input into decision-making.  The planning commission shall appoint one of its members to the parks and recreation committee.  The committee shall develop and refresh a 5-year plan for recreational use of township parks and accesses to gain access to grant opportunities offered by the Department of Natural Resources.


The planning commission and township board will give the highest priority to amending the current zoning ordinance to reflect the master plan.  The zoning ordinance serves as the township’s major regulatory tool.  It will continue to be a flexible document, amended as needed to direct growth in an orderly and thoughtful manner, in order to protect Helena Township’s unique quality of life.

In order To understand the issues and develop policies, goals and objectives, the planning commission organized the information in this section into nine categories as listed below:

  1. Commercial/Village Areas
  2. Alden
  3. Clam River
  4. South End
  5. Mancelona School Sites
  6. Conservation Areas
  7. Farmland
  8. Residential Development
  9. Shoreline Residential
  10. Economic Development
  11. Parks and Recreation
  12. Roads, Access Management and Road Designations




Three areas within the township permit commercial activity:  the Village zoned areas of Alden and Clam River, and the Commercial zone on the county highway at the south end of the township. These districts are the historic backbone of Helena Township’s commercial activity.

It is also recognized there are successful income producing activities that are occurring in the township that have been and can be accommodated through the Special Use Permit process.

Density of Development

 Higher density uses and specific uses such as food service and car washes will need plans for:

  1. sewage disposal systems,
  2. water supply.



The (unincorporated) village of Alden is the heart and activity center of the community and the township.  Its environmental setting along the shores of Torch Lake and Spencer Creek makes it exceptionally unique.

Alden is seen as important for the following activities according to the responses from the opinion survey questionnaire. (not in priority order)

  • Recreation center
  • Shopping
  • Alden District Library
  • Alden Harbor docks
  • Alden Harbor boat launch site
  • Youth activities
  • Tennis courts
  • Alden Depot
  • Coy Mountain Trails

Traffic and Parking

Traffic Goals and Objectives

  • Keep right-of-ways the same width – do not widen
  • Keep parking on both sides of the street
  • Keep sidewalks where they currently exist
  • Future – Add sidewalks where appropriate
  • Future – Consider a plan for alternate truck traffic around Alden.


Encourage a plan for off-street public parking for commercial use.

 Pedestrian Circulation

Establish walkways for people and bicycles beyond commercial buildings and road traffic.  These walkways add value to adjacent properties, enhance village character and increase access to businesses.

  • It is in the best interest of residents and businesses that safe and convenient pedestrian and non-motorized vehicle access be provided to residential recreational and business destinations in Alden.
  • If possible, identify and show current pedestrian routes on both public and private land on a map.
  • Create a map showing desirable future pedestrian and bicycle connections between residences and destinations such as retail businesses, harbor, beaches and parks.
  1. Obtain trail or sidewalk easements across private property.
  2. Consider private property issues of trespass and privacy
  3. Require pedestrian/bicycle connections as development of new business, parking, subdivisions, etc. takes place.

Maintain Commercial Viability

  • The central area of Alden shall be devoted to retail stores, restaurants and similar uses that cater to high pedestrian traffic. “Big Box’ stores and drive-through restaurants, available in nearby communities, are incompatible with the small-scale commercial activities, rural character, and quaint village charm of Helena Township.
  • Create a plan that identifies:
  1. An area where only retail stores, restaurants and similar uses that cater to high pedestrian traffic are allowed on the first floor, and office and residential uses are allowed on upper floors.
  2. An area where office and lower pedestrian traffic uses are allowed such as real estate, attorney, physicians, and banks.
  3. These zones should consider existing uses and also consider long range plans.
  • Work with the Downtown Development Authority to plan for and implement a program of improving the infrastructure.

Maintain Village Character

  • The village should have identifiable borders so that the current small town pedestrian scale character can be maintained as growth in the surrounding area continues.
  • Show on the Future Land Use Map the current developed village boundaries and projected future growth areas, taking into account existing development, natural features, and natural maximum walking distances of about one quarter mile.
  • Show features such as forested hills, wetlands, property ownership patterns, etc. that indicate natural village borders.
  • Approach adjacent townships and Antrim County to encourage neighborhood-sized commercial services.
  • Future – Develop a plan, such as acquiring conservation easements on natural boundary areas, to ensure that the boundaries are maintained.

Coy Mountain, due to its proximity to the (unincorporated) village of Alden, its beautiful forest cover, and scenic views of the lake that are available from the top of the hill, is a major community asset.  Properties adjacent to Coy Mountain are privately owned and therefore prime parcels for a future public acquisition to preserve and protect this self-sustaining climax forest and community trail.

Future Zoning

Create Village Zoning Districts with the following uses allowed in a number of separate zones so that specific land use objectives can be achieved through the rezoning process.

  1. mixed uses with Special Use Permit review approval procedures,
  2. commercial retail center,

III.         office and tower-volume pedestrian traffic uses,

  1. residential with auxiliary apartments,
  2. allow home occupations,
  3. shoreline residential standards,

VII.       residential rental,

VIII.       waterfront district.


It is recommended the zoned village of Clam River be reduced as follows:

North – by Clam River and Clam Lake

East – by Dewitt Marina and the Rock Shop

South – by the Rock Shop and the “island” formed by River Street and East Torch                              Lake Drive

West – by the center of River Street east


The remaining “Village” zoned property at Clam River be rezoned “R-1”

Commercial businesses

Plans and zoning regulations for the commercial businesses in the Clam River area should address the following:

  1. expansion of businesses,
  2. redevelopment of businesses,
  3. business-residential needs.


The planning commission has identified the following issues in the South End Commercial Area.

The South End Commercial Area currently extends from Crystal Beach Road to the north 800 feet on the east side and 700 feet on the west side of South East Torch Lake Drive.  There are five properties on the east side about 400 feet deep and four properties on the west side about 300 feet deep.


  1. School Location — School location has a major impact on future development patterns. Families base location decisions on school accessibility.
  2. Relationship to Recreation — Schools can contribute to the recreational needs of the township by joint use of recreational facilities and also for summer recreation.
  3. The township and the school district need to plan future school locations consistent with the township plan.
  4. Locate future schools in existing developed areas where easy access by students is available. Keep schools away from low density and non-development areas.
  5. Schools should be located and planned for pedestrian and bicycle access for both school use and summer recreation activities.


There is a total of 10,391 acres in the township.  Vacant land (4,984 acres – 48.00 percent), and forests (2,322 acres – 22.00 percent) makes up 70 percent of the land area of the township.  Agricultural zoning makes up over 90 percent of the total land area of the township.   WHERE DO I FIND THIS INFORMATION?

These lands include farmlands, vacant lands, wetlands, steep slopes, scenic view lands, lakes and streams, wildlife habitat, etc.  These lands contain significant natural resources and contribute greatly to the character of the township.  Each of these areas has unique characteristics and special planning issues.  Development can occur in these areas if care is taken to include consideration of the natural resource base.

Land use planning is one of the best tools available to protect resources while allowing development to occur.  Resources are inventoried and protected on a site-by-site basis.  This includes, wetlands, steep slopes, scenic views, and wildlife habitats, etc.  Development of the land is directed away for from these resources.

Land use areas also include such areas as shoreline buffer zones, public access sites and township, county, tribal, and school district public owned lands.

Potential Conservation Areas

The Potential Conservation Areas Map found in section IV illustrates features that comprise elements that may be considered as potential conservation areas.  The map also identifies the resource areas that could be protected, the areas that are most appropriate for development, as well as the areas that have already been developed.  These maps show the interconnected pattern of resources that need protection and where development should be carefully managed, or in some cases, discouraged.

Active Farmlands

Active farms contribute to the economy and to the rural character of the township and preserve scenic views.  Farmlands also provide wildlife habitat and act as wildlife corridors between other wildlife habitats.

  1. The long-term economic viability of farmland in Helena Township is being challenged by rising land values.
  2. Farmland will be split into small development units unless other economically viable development or preservation options are available.

III.   Conservation easements, rural clustering or transfer of development rights are possible means to preserve the rural character and open space values of these farmlands.


Extra care should be taken in development of wetland areas for many reasons.

Wetlands are home to many plant and animal species.  They help prevent flooding and recharge our aquifers.

  1. Loss of wetlands due to development activities such as access roads and filling.
  2. Splitting into small parcels that may disrupt their function as wildlife corridors.

III. Wetland areas should be protected.

  1. The rivers Bodies of water and their adjacent wetlands need buffer areas.

       Protection of certain resources (such as wetlands) by ordinance is desirable. Development of wetlands is undesirable.  Planned Unit Developments that allow reasonable residential development with appropriate setbacks from wetlands are reasonable where it is possible to maintain wildlife corridors.  Maps of these wetland wildlife corridors should be created and an Overlay Zone of the wetlands and their adjacent steep slopes with allowable uses should be addressed.

Steep Slopes

  1. Steep slopes are associated with some areas near each creek.
  2. Erosion takes place if development occurs, and siltation of adjacent streams or wetlands is likely.

III. Grading changes the character of steep slopes.

  1. Construction along steep slopes could cause sandy soils to erode.
  2. Areas of forested slopes provide a border along wetlands.
  3. VI. Conservation Easements, public purchase or Cluster Development are options to consider.

 Scenic Views

Scenic views are an important part of Helena Township.  A substantial part of the attractiveness of the township is due to the views of forested hills, farmland, and panoramic views of water from public roads.

Current development patterns indicate that these public scenic views will gradually change. Development can occur in these areas if care is taken to include a consideration of the natural resource base.

Environmental zones

Environmental zones and their adjacent areas provide valuable ecological functions.

A better understanding of the issues relating to these areas is necessary in order to make zoning ordinance requirements more meaningful and to help the public become more informed of development options to protect these areas.

Public Access Sites

Helena Township owns 19 public access sites on Torch Lake and Clam Lake and Thayer Lake.

  1.         Possible improvement or expansion of one or more of the most popular road end parks may be considered and perhaps relieve use pressures from the Harbor.
  2. There may be a desire to establish a larger park on Torch Lake.

III.        Depot Park provides swimming but no boat access.

  1. Baseball Diamond Park

Public-Owned Lands

The Public Owned Lands Map illustrates Helena Township, Antrim County, Mancelona Schools, and Helena Township public lands, and township owned public access sites on Torch Lake, Clam Lake, and Thayer Lake.

There may be the opportunity to acquire properties with frontage on Torch Lake to provide parks, open space or to preserve the historic character of the sites.


The conversion of farmland into non-agricultural uses is a noteworthy problem that is experienced statewide and will be faced in Helena Township as well.  The general public recognized the importance of retaining farmland for food and tree production, as well as for its contribution to open space that comprises what people think of as rural character.  Tools available to protect farmland include purchase of development rights and deed restrictions.

  1. A large portion of Helena Township is zoned Agriculture.
  2. A number of uses are allowed in the Agriculture zone.

III. There may be a need to allow clustering, purchase or transfer of development or other methods to retain the rural character of the township.

Residential Development

Residential development and rural character are important issues.  As rural areas are developed for residential uses concern for their effect on township character and quality of life should be considered.

       The Environmental zone may be expanded to cover these streams and adjacent lands where rural clustering is required for all development and houses are located in clusters respecting streambanks, steep slopes, and wildlife corridors.

Encourage conservation planning language for use in all residential zoning districts in the zoning ordinance.  Conservation planning is one of the best tools available to protect resources while allowing development to occur.  Resources are inventoried and protected on a site-by-site basis.  This includes wetlands, steep slopes, scenic views, and wildlife habitats, etc.

Development of the land is directed outside these resources.  Example of ordinance language that can be written to implement conservation planning may include:

  1. mandatory protection of certain resources (such as wetlands) by ordinance,
  2. voluntary conservation planning, written with built-in incentives such as bonus density


  1. open space planning, cluster housing, and/or planned unit development,
  2. requirements for special use permits in environmental resource areas,
  3. overlay zoning districts to provide buffer areas along lakes, streams, or other resources,
  4. conservation easements and preserves in cooperation with a land conservancy,
  5. require a pre-application conference between the zoning administrator (or other designated township representative) and developers so the township’s resource protection goals can be articulated,
  6. require a resource inventory map, existing conditions (both natural and human made), and/or a site analysis map for every development.
  7. Purchase of development rights, rural clustering, and transfer of development rights should be considered as methods of retaining the rural character of the township.


  1. Mobile homes should be permitted in residential districts subject to current standards.
  2. Mobile Home Park Developments

Statement of Intent

Mobile home park developments have special characteristics which require full consideration of their location, including their site layout and design, their demand upon community services and the relationship to, and effect upon, surrounding uses of land.  This is not intended to include recreational vehicle parks.

Location Standards

  1. Area with good road access to schools, shopping, and other services.
  2. Area with soils suitable for community sewage disposal area or connection to a central sewage disposal system – not including a sewage lagoon.

III. Parcel that is large enough for appropriate screening and buffering from adjacent uses.

Access to the park development site should be from a public thoroughfare only.  Access should be designed with a capacity to safely and effectively handle any increased traffic which may be generated by the mobile home park development.

  1. Individual site access standards such as:
  2. minimum average size per mobile home site;
  3. minimum individual site size;
  4. provision for minimum dedicated open space;
  5. yard requirements such as setbacks from any private street or roadway, side site lines and rear site lines,
  6. park road standards.

III. unit lot improvement standards such as:

  1. each mobile home unit shall occupy at least a single lot;
  2. all parking areas should be hard surfaced;
  3. skirting or equivalent treatment which shall be fire resistant, vented, and have access panels.
  4. building height limits
  5. lighting standards that keep light on the parcel and do not allow glare off site.
  6. regulation or limitations on mobile home unit sales so that the mobile home park is not a retail sales area

Shoreline Residential

The highest value, most densely developed land is located along the township’s 12.95 miles of shoreline on Torch, Clam and Thayer Lakes.

Home sizes

Impervious structure to lot size rations and setbacks may need to be considered in the future for new development or additions to existing structures.

Short-term Rental in R-1 Zone

The intent of the R-1 zone is to provide an area for single-family homes and a quiet residential neighborhood setting.  Seasonal rental of homes can change the single-family residential character of a neighborhood.  While historically short-term rentals have occurred in Helena Township on a neighbor friendly basis, if there given the is an increase in the commercial nature, scale and frequency of short-term rentals, regulation may become necessary to retain the single-family residential character of neighborhoods.

The zoning administrator must carefully review development plans in the R-1 zone to assure plans are consistent with the intent and character of single-family residential use.


The commercial areas of the township are located in Calm River, Alden and a small area at the south end of the township.

The economic base of Helena Township rests with resort and tourist business, high quality residential, and service businesses, and agriculture.  The following goals apply.

  1. Maintain the economic viability of the existing businesses.
  2. Retain or improve the character of the commercial areas as redevelopment or new development takes place.

III. The Community Wide Opinion Survey indicates the following:

  1. resort and tourist business is typical,
  2. some industry is allowable,
  3. High-tech business is acceptable if it is environmentally compatible with natural resource protections,
  4. Limited clustered commercial with special use permit review process is acceptable,
  5. Encourage development plans to conserve open space.

Parks and Recreation

  1. The Five-Year Plan is to put puts together suggestions from public input with information obtained by the Parks and Recreation Committee to construct a plan to protect, maintain, and develop, if appropriate, Helena Township owed land and water resources.


  1. Biking, hiking, and cross-country skiing are recreational pursuits northern Michigan residents of all ages enjoy. The recreation plan should provide the ability of residents to enjoy these resource-based activities.  The township enjoys hiking trails at Coy Mountain and may consider non-motorized pathways for hiking and cross-country skiing in the acreage owned by the township just off McPherson Road.



There are both public and private roads in Helena Township that provide a variety of functions ranging from providing access to individual parcels to carrying an increasing amount of vehicular traffic.  They also provide recreation opportunities for bicycle and pedestrian use as well as use by vehicles.  Zoning Regulations should include the following:

  1. Erosion Control Standards
  2. Driveway numbers, separation, and location
  3. Road Capacities should be maintained according to classification.
  4. Safety
  5. Sight distances for driveways
  6. Number of private accesses to public roads.
  7. Road Maintenance requirements for all new developments.
  8. Premature Development – splitting narrow lots off public roads, also splitting parcels with limited or no provisions for future interior roads should not be allowed.
  9. Plans for future public roads should be shown on the Township Plan.
  10. Unpaved roads that have potential for future traffic should be planned for paving.
  11. Provide for smooth entry and egress of fire and emergency vehicles.

Access Management

Defining and preserving the function of roads is an essential part of the Master plan.  The concept of Access Management is to insure ensure that the road system provides access to properties or moves traffic quickly and efficiently depending on the classification of the road.  For example, Alden Highway provides a means for vehicles to travel at speeds up to 55 miles per hour with few conflicts with multiple driveways or vehicles entering and leaving the roadway, in contrast other roads serve primarily adjacent properties, with a number of driveways and at speeds of 35 & 45 miles per hour or less.

  1. Standards of road design and maintenance should be based on the planned function of the roads.
  2. Preserving the function of roads will result in lower overall costs and safer roads.
  3. Coordination with Antrim County Road Commission is needed to insure proper design and maintenance of public roads.
  4. Roads in the Township need to be shown on maps according to the desired function.
  5. Coordinating land use regulations with the desired function of the adjacent roads.

Helena Township should consider the principles of access management included in the Access Management Guidebook published by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) in October 2001 when considering access to public or private roads.

Planned orderly land development that is coordinated with road improvements result in less traffic congestion, safer operation, and a more efficient use of limited infrastructure resources.

Points to be considered for appropriate additions to existing land use regulations for the corridor are:

  1. adjustments to land use density and permitted land uses,
  2. frontage requirements,
  3. setback requirements,
  4. shared and joint access requirements,
  5. driveway spacing standards,
  6. corner clearance standards,
  7. improved internal site circulation, and
  8. condominium and subdivision regulations that support the development of local roads and service drives.


The following functional classification of roads is consistent with the various development zones of the future land use map.

  1. Primary
  2. Purpose is to handle traffic needs into the future
  3. Driveways are limited in number
  4. Provides safe intersections with Collector Roads and a limited number of Local Roads.
  5. Designed for speed of 55 miles per hour.
  6. Connector
  7. Purpose is to provide vehicular access to Primary Roads from local road.
  8. Provides safe intersections with Local Roads.
  1. Local Roads
  2. Purpose is to provide direct access to individual properties.
  3. Provide safe driveway intersections.


The following roads have been classified according to their long-term function.

  2. Alden Hwy (reduce speed through Alden)
  3. S. E. Torch Lake Drive
  4. S. E. Torch Lake Drive (reduce speed in Alden commercial area)


  2. Helena
  3. McPherson – Consider as possible an alternative route around Alden and improve to Alden Hwy.
  4. Crystal Springs Road (reduce Commercial Truck traffic and speed)
  5. East of Torch Lake Drive
  6. Chapman Road


All Other Township Roads