City to explore ways to bolster business community on Mack

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 27, 2018

GROSSE POINTE CITY — The Mack Avenue business corridor in Grosse Pointe City could be getting some additional attention from City officials in 2018.

While presenting his annual planning activities report from 2017 to the City Council at a Feb. 12 meeting, City Planner John Jackson, of McKenna Associates, pointed out that most businesses on Mack are zoned C-1 Local Business or RO-1 Restricted Office, but the City’s Future Land Use for Mack Avenue plan calls for more unified zoning across the district. That would give all property owners “equal footing” and “treat all property owners the same” along Mack, said Jackson — something that’s not the case now, with some properties being subject to rules for office use, and others being subject to the rules for businesses, such as stores and restaurants. Mack is currently zoned by the block in the City, Jackson said.

“It’s restrictive in some respects. … It’s random,” he said. “I suspect it has something to do with the amount of parking that was available at the time” the zoning rules were instituted.

In recent years, Jackson said, the City has developed a couple of additional parking lots to serve Mack businesses, and officials have a better understanding of how parking is used. To come up with more flexible zoning for the district, he said they need to review parking.

The biggest challenge, Jackson explained, is “how we can make the most of the existing parking” that serves Mack businesses.

While the Village on Kercheval Avenue is nearly full, “There’s a lot of vacancies on Mack,” said City Manager Pete Dame.

“I think those buildings would be more easily (filled) … if we had one standard” zoning district and eased parking requirements along Mack, Dame continued.

Jackson said the Michigan Planning Enabling Act requires municipalities to review their master plans at least every five years, and he said it’s now been six years since the City went through that process. In the City, the council also acts as the Planning Commission.

Dame said that, “in 2012… we (instituted) the hospital zoning district” for Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe; he said they also revised zoning for the Fisher Road business district and Mack Avenue during 2012 master plan revisions.

City Councilwoman Sheila Tomkowiak asked Jackson if he was “recommending any changes at this time” to the City’s master plan.

Jackson said the planners would need to review it first, but if they determine that no changes are needed, the City Council can simply pass a resolution indicating that it’s retaining the existing plan.

Jackson told the council that it could review and revise the master plan at any time.