Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development (LID) is an ecologically friendly approach to site development and stormwater management that aims to mitigate development impacts to land, water and air. The approach emphasizes the integration of site design and planning techniques that conserve natural systems and hydrologic functions on a site. The practice has been successfully integrated into many municipal development codes and storm water management ordinances throughout the United States.  The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission can help your community update their master plan and ordinances to promote or require LID practices. 

Why Is Low Impact Development Important?

LID is an important alternative to traditional building that seeks to conserve natural systems and preserve water quality.  What we would like to achieve is to have developers and builders consider how their construction and development will affect the natural world!

Statewide LID manual available for Michigan

Green Infrastructure Information from the EPA  

Low Impact Development Examples in Southwest Michigan

 To find out what you can do to encourage LID in your community:

1. visit the Ox Creek Watershed website for Techniques for Incorporating LID 

2. read the fact sheet on 10 Things Your Community Can Do to Promote LID.

For more information about Low Impact Development, visit Low Impact Development Center  website. 

The following highlight local examples of Low Impact Developments that showcase residential LID techniques. 

Pokagon Band, Elder Housing, Cass County

The Pokagon Band has built a well-rounded development that highlights examples of low impact development techniques everywhere you look. 

  • They have established walking paths throughout the development to increase foot traffic. 
  • They have narrowed road widths and utilized grassed swales to capture stormwater runoff. 
  • Rain gardens are incorporated into each home's landscaping to utilize nature's beauty with native plants. 
  • Large open spaces perform two important functions of cleaning stormwater along with providing communal spaces for the neighborhood to gather.

 View a presentation about how the Pokagon Band considers and implements goals of the Dowagiac River Watershed Management Plan, the St. Joseph River Watershed Management Plan and the Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan into their development.

 This project was featured as a case study showcasing a combination of Best Management Practices in Michigan's Low Impact Development Manual.

Longmeadow Development, Niles Township, Berrien County

Longmeadow is 400 acres of rolling land divided by ponds, meadows, clusters of trees, wetlands, and horse paddocks.  The design was dictated by the land, resulting in separate areas for a variety of housing types and lot sizes.  It also resulted in the preservation of 50 acres of open space, providing opportunities for fishing, community gardens, walking trails, private roads for biking and more.  The design has taken into account the need to preserve habitat for wildlife.  This includes eliminating street lighting and maintaining animal corridors. 

Home sites range from 1/2 acre to over 2 acres and the commercial village currently has medical facilities.  The intention was to create a community village where you can live and walk to work.  The resulting senior Villas, family homes, horse farms and commercial village create an intergenerational community.  Future additions to the village include doctor offices, assisted living facilities, places to eat and other businesses that will add value to the residential development.  From virtually any window you'll find nature – just beyond the backyard deck or right outside the office window!

River Oaks Development, City of Watervliet, Berrien County

River Oaks is located along the Paw Paw River in Watervliet City.  The developer maintained the forested buffer along the river and did not build any houses near the riverbank.  Not only are the homes green, but the lawns are as well.  Each lawn has a rain garden and a no mow lawn.

Certified Green Built Homes – What are the benefits of a Green Built home?

Did you know that a typical home can have more of a negative impact on the environment than your automobile?  By building a Green Built home not only do you save money, breath cleaner air, live in a more durable structure, but you also can sleep better at night knowing you did your part to keep our environment clean.

How do Green Built Homes Differ from Traditional Built Homes?

  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Recycled materials & on-site recycling programs
  • Low-water-use appliances
  • Tankless water heaters
  • Dual flush toilets
  • Drought resistant landscapes
  • Effective land management, good site layout, tree preservation & minimized site disturbance.