Meetings to gauge community interest ahead of redrawn master plan

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published June 1, 2018

WARREN — Warren City Councilman Scott Stevens said weighing in on looming revisions to the city’s master plan is a lot like voting.

“If you don’t come out and give your input in how you want your city to look over a period of time, what right do you have to say anything about it down the road if things are not the way you like it?” Stevens said. “What kind of attributes do you want in the city?”

Councilwoman Kelly Colegio and Stevens have been two of the most persistent voices about updating the city’s master plan governing commercial, industrial, residential, recreation and green-space development going forward.

Warren’s original land use plan was put in place in 1966 and was amended with a “policy update” in 1989. The process to update the plan again is now moving forward, and one of the first steps will be a series of town hall meetings from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays beginning May 31, after press time, and ending June 28 at locations spread across the city’s legislative districts.

In material put together by Beckett & Raeder Inc., the planning consultant hired by the city to tackle the revision, the firm said knowledge about what worked in the previous plans and what doesn’t work well anymore will be combined with new data about people, the economy, the environment, transportation and other factors. The accumulated information will be weighed along with public input to create a “big picture” policy document “that guides long-term decision making.”

“This is really the kind of thing where the plan is going to get written, it’s going to influence local ordinances and it’s going to have public input,” said Leah DuMouchel, a planner with Beckett & Raeder. “So this really is a case of the world being run by those who show up, and the more voices the better.”

Colegio said access to neighborhood green space, landscaping and zoning for certain types of businesses will be among the things considered in the revised plan.

“I think it’s long overdue. When you don’t have an updated master plan, you basically end up with a city that’s a hodgepodge of businesses and residences, with no flow to it,” Colegio said. “I hope that anyone who has an interest in where they want to see the city in the next five, 10, 15 years moving forward will come to the meeting to give the Master Plan Committee an idea of what they want the master plan to look like.”

The committee is comprised of council representatives, administrative staffers and city planners.

Stevens said he hopes interested residents will attend all of the meetings to make their voices heard, regardless of which district they live in. He said all will be welcome to participate in a discussion and an exercise designed to help reach conclusions by generating input.

The new planning policy should benefit the residents and, at the same time, create a better climate for businesses to invest and thrive.

“Businesses look at that, too, that we don’t have an updated master plan, and they say, ‘Is this where we want to move, if there’s no direction here?’” Stevens said. “My concern is there’s basically no direction right now. It’s just helter-skelter. Everything has to go before planning because we have nothing definitive as far as what goes where. For the most part, we were adrift.”

Colegio said she favored revising the master plan before the city adopted a recent ordinance governing medical marijuana facilities, and she stressed the importance of hearing from residents on such matters.

“We may think we know what residents want, but we won’t really know what they want until we actually hear from them. After all, this is their city,” Colegio said.

A series of town hall meetings began on May 31 at City Hall and were scheduled to continue on Thursdays throughout the month of June: on June 7, in the café area of the Warren Community Center at 5460 Arden Ave.; on June 14, at the Owen Jax Recreation Center at 8207 E. Nine Mile Road; on June 21, at the Fitzgerald Recreation Center at 4355 E. Nine Mile Road; and on June 28, at McKinley Elementary School at 13173 Toepfer Road.

For more information about the effort to update the city’s master plan, visit www.warrenmasterplan.org.