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Berkley announces new amendment plan process

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 1, 2016

File photo

BERKLEY — At its most recent meeting on July 26, the Planning Commission announced plans for a new amendment to its master plan to replace one that has angered residents.

The meeting for this new amendment, which would supersede the last amendment to the 2015 master plan passed in August 2015, is scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug 23, at the Berkley Community Center, 2400 Robina Ave.

“We are going to write an amendment that will in the end take the existing amendment’s (place), and this new amendment will supersede it and get rid of the old one,” Planning Commissioner David Barnett said. “The old one will be dead.”

Reflecting on how they got to this point, resident Lori Robertson said a petition, which she helped organize and which gathered 2,036 signatures, was a big part of it.

“The residents really came out in droves to sign this petition within a very short amount of time,” she said. “The City Council recognized the success of the petition, and I think the City Council really kind of started the whole process of, ‘OK, I think we need to look at this amendment.’ And so they started the process.”

After the last, somewhat contentious Planning Commission meeting, Robertson said she felt like the tone had begun to shift into something more positive.

“Today, you can tell that we’re now in an upswing and they’re willing to do the will of the people, so to speak, and revise that amendment,” she said.

The commission began the pre-planning process of working on a new amendment at the meeting, which involved reviewing the concerns of the residents, what happened at previous City Council and commission meetings, and how they got to the point where they are now.

What now begins is the planning process of drafting a new amendment, which will begin at the Aug. 23 meeting. Residents will be invited to the meeting at the community center to speak with commission members about residential land use and how they envision Berkley’s future.

The commission will then look to other city officials for feedback before working to draft an amendment. The planning process is expected to be the longest part of what’s to come in the development of a new amendment, said Barnett.

“This initial process is going to take us a little while, because I think we need to collect a lot of data, not just from the citizens, but there’s other data that we have to absorb and look at before we’re ready to sit down and start drafting,” he said.

Depending on what is talked about at the next meeting, Barnett said another meeting could be added to hear everyone who wants to be heard on the issue.

“I feel that we’ll see how this first session goes and we might have to go to a second one,” he said. “I don’t know yet. I want to see what we gather and what happens, and if we don’t get everybody in that we think we should, then we’ll do a second session. And then we’ll look at how the data goes together.

“We’re going to follow what we have to do. I’m not going to rush it,” he said.

Barnett said he didn’t know how long the development process would last or have a guess as to what the amendment might look like.

“I would like to see this done by the end of the year or early January,” he said. “We’ve got several hoops that we have to jump through.”

After a working draft is made with suggestions from the residents, the plan will go to the City Council. If the council is satisfied with it, it will be sent to adjacent communities’ school districts, public utilities and the Oakland County Planning Commission for advisory feedback.

“Sometimes we get comments,” Barnett said. “Sometimes we don’t.”
Then they will look at how the comments would get incorporated into the plan and if they need to be incorporated.

“It goes to the Oakland County (Planning) Commission for approval. They’ll have a subcommittee that’ll review it and, generally, if the subcommittee says fine, then the commission’s going to say fine too.”

What has worried Robertson most is the thought of multi-family homes being built in the interior of the city, which she described as “too invasive.”

“I would like to see progress, but I think we have to be careful with where we’re putting it,” she said.

As for what she’s looking forward to discussing at the Aug. 23 meeting, Robertson said she could see some development on 11 Mile Road.

She is looking forward to what the commission might present to the residents and sharing it.

“I do not want multi-family (housing) throughout the city, but let’s develop the areas that are already in need,” she said. “Like, 11 Mile is industrial. Could that be revamped?

“We have vacant industrial buildings on 11 Mile — maybe (we) could look at those areas. I think that we just need to be very careful. I’m sure the people that live up against 11 Mile (are) not going to want it. We have to make some compromises and I think that that’s important, especially if we’re going to move forward. Do I think we need to be more dense? No. No, we don’t. We have the highest density in all the communities that surround us. So it’ll really depend on what they bring to us to see how we’re going to react. I do think we’re on an upswing though,” she said.