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Grosse Pointe City

September 13, 2012

City sets October date for master plan hearing

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTE CITY — Next month, residents, businesses and property owners will be asked to weigh in on a vision officials have for the future of the City.

Although a time and location had yet to be established at press time, the City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed updated master plan Oct. 29. That date was unanimously approved by the City Council after they approved distribution of a draft of the plan Aug. 20. City Manager Peter Dame said they tried to incorporate ideas from two previous meetings into the draft.

City Planner John Jackson of McKenna Associates said the plan includes a new transition district and other small changes in the Village, state-mandated “complete streets” language with regard to accessibility, the addition of a bike route map that will connect to assets, such as schools and the Village, while also coordinating with a route being developed by neighboring Pointes, a broadening of uses on Mack and creation of a neighborhood commercial district on the more residential Fisher Road.

A healthcare district is likely to be approved for property on and around Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe. Hospital officials have expressed an interest in creating additional parking and more patient rooms, among other potential changes. In recent years, the hospital has been purchasing residential property on Notre Dame that might be part of such a project, but the City’s master plan calls for a stepped-down approach and a greenbelt around the perimeter of the hospital to protect nearby residents. A formal proposal from the hospital hasn’t yet been submitted.

“We tried to balance the needs and desires of both of these groups,” said Jackson, noting that the plan calls for the greatest height and density in the center of the property, with lower surface parking surrounded by landscaping going out from the buildings.

City Council member John Stempfle asked if residents would see lights from parked cars shining on their properties. Jackson said the hospital has indicated it plans to build a wall along the perimeter, similar to the one it already has on Cadieux. As to exact setbacks and landscaping, he said those details would be hammered out later during zoning approval.

The City’s last master plan was approved in 2004.

“By and large, the document hasn’t changed much since the last master plan,” Jackson said.

The biggest change, he said, was the presence of vacant property on St. Clair, adjacent to the Village, which was, at one time, slated to become senior housing created by Sunrise. Officials are now considering a number of possible uses for the property, including a small hotel, office, multi-family housing or senior housing.

An Aug. 20 letter from several major Village property owners to Mayor Dale Scrace outlined some of the improvements they felt were needed going forward. These included dedicating Lot 2 to parking and focusing on development in Lots 3 and 4; converting all metered parking lots to gated lots, and offering free parking on Saturdays and after 6 p.m. weekdays to encourage people to spend more time shopping and dining in the Village, without fear of getting a ticket; and expanding potential uses for the retail frontages along Kercheval, such as banks, offices and exercise facilities.

“Unless we support the ‘precious jewel’ that the Village of Grosse Pointe is with service-oriented businesses, we will continue to see vacancies and the viability of the Village will continue to be threatened,” the property owners wrote.

The owners did acknowledge that City leaders have already expanded Kercheval uses to include businesses like salons, but they said more needed to be done as the retail climate continues to change. In past meetings, some City leaders have expressed reservations about allowing other types of businesses to occupy Kercheval frontage, saying they felt it would damage the retail character of the district and hinder future retail development.

In compliance with state law, the City had to send the draft to local government agencies, including Wayne County, neighbors such as Grosse Pointe Park and Farms, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, railroads and utilities, Jackson said. They were also expected to share the report with other interested parties, including City property owners, the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce and Grosse Pointe Public School System, among others, he said.

“This is not the end of this process,” Jackson told the council. As Scrace pointed out, they’ll be responding to public input in the weeks ahead.

Written comments on the master plan will be accepted through Oct. 24, as established by state law. Comments can be mailed to Grosse Pointe City Hall, 17147 Maumee, Grosse Pointe City, MI 48230 or emailed to city@grossepointecity.org. A draft of the proposed new master plan can be viewed online by clicking on the government tab at www.grossepointecity.org.

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