Highlands plans impacting Sparta

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    SPARTA-A proposed state plan to expand the protection of the Highlands region will have a direct effect on how much Sparta grows. On Tuesday night, officials decided to cancel a joint meeting between the Sparta Township council and school board until additional information is collected regarding the state plan. "We're waiting until the Highlands issue is resolved before we have our joint meeting," said Mayor James Henderson. The canceled meeting was to discuss the future population projections for the township, and how it would impact the number of students in the schools. "If the Highlands bill passes and two or three hundred homes are not built, our projections will have to change," said Henderson, explaining that these numbers would be something the school board will need to consider as it moves forward with addressing the overpopulation in the schools. According to Sparta Township Planner David Troast, approximately 45 percent of Sparta will be located within the protected area if the bill is passed as currently proposed. In February of this year, Troast estimated that Sparta still had space for approximately 865 new homes before its maximum build number was reached. "It all depends on where the line ends up. It all depends on when they finish their study, and what eventual zoning they allow," said Troast, adding that he will be able to provide the council and school board additional information once the state makes a decision. The proposed bill was approved by the state's assembly environmental committee early this week. The senate commission is expected to review the matter on Thursday. "I'm almost certain that we will be able to make more definitive projections within the next couple months, but there is no way to guarantee that," said Troast.