We often think of our borders as set in stone, but the reality is that many of our communities have changed shape over the years, and that includes the county itself. When Michigan’s territorial governor, Lewis Cass, created Macomb County by proclamation in 1818, it was enormous and encompassed eight of today’s counties. Over time, other counties formed and broke off, leaving Macomb with the border we have today.
The fluidity of our communities can be seen in many instances, some as recently as in the past 30 years. For example, there was once a community called Muttonville located at 31 Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue. It started in 1863 and was essentially an intersection. It consisted merely of a church, grocery store and a saloon. In 1989, it incorporated with the city of Richmond. There is still a Muttonville Lane today.
Waldenburg was another small settlement with a few businesses located at 22 Mile Road and Romeo Plank. Though it incorporated with Macomb Township, the Waldenburg name still appears on Google Maps.
Utica extended its border east along Hall Road from M-53 to Schoenherr Road by annexing it from neighboring Shelby Township. This valuable property includes major retail establishments and subsequently generates substantial tax revenue. An intergovernmental agreement, known as Act 425, was reached in June 1996 and resolved the legal battle between the communities regarding this land.
In 1998, the city of Richmond annexed parts of Casco, Columbus and Richmond townships. A Geographic Information Systems map from the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development shows on the south end of Richmond’s current border, there is a thin strip of land that connects Dick Huvaere’s Richmond Auto Body to the city, giving Richmond a very unique border.
A few of our communities are split between Macomb and neighboring counties. We share Memphis and the city of Richmond with St. Clair County. The majority of Grosse Pointe Shores lies in Wayne County, but within the past five years, a small northern portion of the city joined Macomb County.
Today’s Macomb County is 484 square miles and consists of 27 cities, townships and villages. Who knows what the next 30 years will bring?
Caitlin Gerds Habermas is an associate planner for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.