Former planner opens planning/design biz

TRAVERSE CITY – A former Garfield Township planner who was asked to resign by the township's supervisor over a public structure dispute is getting back to his consultant roots, opening a planning and design business in Traverse City.

Gerry Harsch, who spent more than three decades as planner for area townships and the City of Charlevoix, recently launched Land Planning and Design Associates.

"I'm picking up where I left off," said Harsch, who started as a township consultant in 1970.

He's running his business out of his home at 803 S. Union Street.

Harsch, who turns 70 next month, was a planner for Garfield Township for 30 years. He left the position earlier this year following contention over a gazebo he had placed in his backyard.

Harsch said the gazebo, which originally had been tagged for a township trailhead, was fine for him to use, given that it was vandalized and discarded. But some township officials believed otherwise. Harsch said he spent a considerable amount of money refurbishing the gazebo. Ultimately, the township asked Harsch to resign after the issue was brought to light publicly nearly four years after he placed the gazebo in his backyard. Harsch said he's put the incident behind him.

"I worked for the township for a long time and did a lot of work to get land into public ownership," he said. "It wasn't my particular choice in time to leave, but I was at the point, being nearly 70 years old, I had had enough of this anyway. It wasn't an overwhelming deal for me to say I'll pack it in at this time."

He's looking forward to his consultant work. His specializations will include community visioning, master plans, special area plans, green infrastructure/park and recreation planning, historic district studies, wayfinding and interpretive signs, zoning ordinance special provisions, capital budgets, grantsmanship, and temporary planning and zoning staffing. BN