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Township Profile

Description

Located in the rural fringe of the rapidly expanding Grand Rapids metropolitan area, generally in the southeast quadrant of Kent County, the Township Of Vergennes can be characterized in several distinctive areas.

  • The majority of the Township has rural flavor as it is identified with scattered homes on large acre parcels with a balance of larger tracts of farmlands, fields, and open areas.
  • The Township is characterized as a bedroom community where most residents travel outside of its boundaries to reach an employment sector.
  • Major access to the Township is via Lincoln Lake Avenue which traverses the community from north to south and intersects with M-21 just south of the Township in the City of Lowell. Vergennes Street is the major east/west route. Interstate I-96 is located approximately four and on-half miles further south.
  • While active farmlands exist throughout the Township, the largest acreage Concentration of agriculture is present in the northwest quadrant of the Township (north of Vergennes Street and west of Alden Nash Avenue).
Important Features

There are several natural features within the Township of Vergennes Which are worthy of consideration in the comprehensive planning exercise: The eastern third of the Township is traversed by the Flat River which provides attractive valleys and recreation opportunities for area residents as well as important Habitat for wildlife.

  • Significant portions of the Township are covered with dense woodlands. These areas, together with the wetlands associated with the Township’s lakes and the Flat River, provide important wildlife refuge and scenic amenities for the community.
  • The topographic variation in the Township contributes visual interest and privacy and by itself is an important natural feature. * According to the Kent County Soil Survey, several acres considered to have “prime farmland soils” exist in the western half of the Township, especially in the northwest corner. (It is important to note that these prime farmland soils relate only to local conditions)
Planning Considerations
  • Growth. The Township of Vergennes is located in a highly desirable county setting and within acceptable commuting distances to major employment centers. It is expected that the Township will continue to witness residential development pressure.
  • Soils. According to the Kent County Soils Survey, in general, a majority of the soils in Vergennes Township present development challenges with regard to septic systems while some soils are well suited to a variety of agricultural activities.
  • Balanced Character. In Vergennes Township, a major challenge is to find balance and harmony in protecting the farmer who still wants to farm and directing growth in appropriated areas while still maintaining the rural character of the Township.
  • Land Uses. Residential development is the predominated land use in the Township, comprising 87% of total property value.

Township History

Some History of Vergennes Township

This is a very short history compiled for the Lowell Chamber of Commerce in 1999, followed by a bit on the Fallasburg Covered Bridge. The most interesting written history we have is a product of the Vergennes Club, a group of township ladies that has met monthly since 1914. They undertook a project in 1984 called Vergennes Living History, a written compilation of the remembrances of early residents, and it is a treasure they have agreed to share on our web site. We would love to add any other written or photographic history residents may have to share. And if anyone would like to work on a community service project to compile the information received, they may call or E-mail the township for further information.

Vergennes Township was first settled in 1836 by Sylvester Hodges of New York State, and organized in 1838, with Rodney Robinson as its first Supervisor. There were 19 families in the Township at that time. The land was an unbroken wilderness, which soon was converted into fine farms. Mills were erected on several streams, schoolhouses were erected, villages incorporated and commerce encouraged. The present City of Lowell and Vergennes were two sister towns, in substance, one settlement, which the township line about equally divided.

Today, Vergennes is home to 3500 residents. Still rural in nature, the land is rolling and wooded where not farmed or otherwise developed. Lowell High School is located on Vergennes Road, near the intersection of Alden Nash which divides the township in half. Vergennes is also home
to 1500 hundred acres of public land, including the 800 acre Lowell State Game Area. The 530 acre Fallasburg Park, one of the most popular parks operated by the Kent County Parks Commission, is located on the banks of the Flat River, a State designated Natural River, which traverses the Eastern side of the township. The township hosts an 18 hole golf course and several Bed and Breakfast operations, as well as the Lowell Airport, which is utilized by private aircraft.

Information on the Fallasburg Covered Bridge

In 1839, John W. Fallas built a bridge over the Flat River on the spot where the covered bridge stands today. It was not a covered bridge, nor were the next two, all succumbing to the ravages of winter, severe weather, and time. In 1871, the residents of the Village of Fallasburg hired the firm of Jared Brasee and Company to construct a sturdier covered bridge. In 1905 the original wooden pilings were replaced with concrete. Several renovations have taken place over the years, the latest being in 1994 by the Kent County Road Commission.

The bridge has played a role in numerous television commercials, and has been the subject of countless photographers and painters. Serving as an entrance to the Historic Village of Fallasburg, the covered bridge stands as a testament to what the village once was for countless West Michigan residents.

Fallasburg Historical Society