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Grosse Pointe City

November 29, 2012

City’s revised master plan includes health care district, broader uses on Mack

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTE CITY — A revised master plan that drew criticism from a number of residents — particularly those living near Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, which will now be part of a long-discussed health care district — has been formally approved by City officials.

During a meeting Nov. 12, the City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to adopt the plan. It’s the first largely revised master plan since 2004.

The plan includes creation of a health care district whose boundaries include Cadieux, Jefferson, Notre Dame and Maumee, and it includes residential properties purchased by the hospital, particularly along Notre Dame. Neighbors worry that new development at Beaumont will damage the character of the area, and some say the hospital has already led to problems, such as noise, vagrants, littering and increased traffic. For their part, hospital officials have insisted Beaumont has been a good neighbor, providing health care for local residents and supporting various community initiatives.

“There are benefits to having a community hospital,” City Council member Christopher Walsh said. “I think it’s a great thing. Grosse Pointe philanthropic dollars are being invested back into the community.”

City Manager Peter Dame was quick to note that adoption of the plan didn’t denote approval of any possible future project or expansion at the hospital.

“The master plan is a guiding document for future land use,” he said. “It is not the zoning ordinance. It is not the law.”

Residents on the side of Notre Dame across the street from hospital-acquired property are nervous about what they future might hold, given that they’re used to facing other homes. City officials have said they intend to ask for a greenbelt around the hospital, among other things.

“(The master plan) does not change the zoning of properties on Notre Dame,” Dame told attendees at the council meeting. “It simply changes future land use. … It doesn’t create any new zoning rights, and it doesn’t take away any existing property rights.”

City Council member Andrew Turnbull echoed that sentiment, pointing out that any changes at the hospital would require additional public hearings, meetings between residents and the hospitals, and other such public forums.

“In approving the master plan, this in no way green-lights any building projects,” Turnbull said. “All this is doing is giving a very broad future use designation for that area.”

City Council member Donald Parthum also tried to reassure residents, saying that the master plan didn’t constitute a change in zoning.

“It gives the hospital nothing,” he said. “It just is a plan. It’s nothing more than that. … Nothing is going to take place immediately.”

City Council member Jean Weipert said they’re required to look at their master plan every five years. Like her colleagues, she said any changes at the hospital would require additional public meetings and discussions.

“This is not even close to a done deal,” Weipert said. “We haven’t seen anything from the hospital yet. … We will look very thoughtfully, very carefully, at any future plan, if and when one is presented to us.”

Although the health care district was an important component of the new master plan, it wasn’t the only addition. Dame said the City is the first of the Pointes to embrace the “complete streets” model, with roads designated for cyclists and other changes that reflect the mixture of pedestrian, cyclist and automotive traffic on many of the roads in the community.

“That is part of the comprehensive transportation component of our master plan,” he said.

Other changes include designating Mack Avenue as general business, as opposed to the previous mix of office and commercial, to broaden uses along that busy thoroughfare, and the establishment of a neighborhood business district for the commercial portion of Fisher Road that reflects the proximity to residential properties while preserving the character of the business district. A new transitional district in the Village, which includes the parcel formerly planned for a Sunrise senior housing facility, would allow for a larger residential structure, such as another senior housing project or a hotel, Dame said.

Mayor Dale Scrace estimated that more than 500 people participated in various forums related to the master plan over the past six months, and said the feedback from residents, business owners and the like was invaluable to City officials.

“We do listen to those (comments),” Scrace said. “We are all concerned about the greater good.”

To view the complete revised master plan, visit www.grossepointecity.org/files/downloads/GP-MasterPlan%2011-8-12%20(small).pdf on the City’s website.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.