Birmingham rejects charter amendment

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 7, 2012

After 10,925 votes were cast on Nov. 6, it was clear that the proposed amendment to the Birmingham City Charter failed to gain support from residents.

The amendment would have eliminated a current charter limitation that requires a vote to allow the sale of any property valued in excess of $2 per capita.

Mayor Mark Nickita said before the election he wasn’t sure if the amendment proposal would be successful or not, but he hoped residents would throw their support behind it.

“It will allow the city to move forward with the implementation of some of our planning initiatives like the Triangle and Rail District master plans, as well as general public space and infrastructure enhancements,” said Nickita in an email before the election results were returned. “Specifically, the amendment will provide us with the tools to act on opportunities that will likely lead to generating additional tax revenue and increase the quality of our public realm.”

The Triangle District Master Plan is a guide for developing the space in Birmingham that runs along Woodward between Maple Road and Adams Road. Efforts to create the master plan began in 2007, and dictates a “form-based code” for developments in the district based on physical character, function and other factors. The idea behind the plan, according to the city’s website, is to increase traffic in the area for both retail and residential purposes while also encouraging walkability in accordance with Birmingham’s multimodal plan currently in development.

In the end, 6,184 voters, or 56.6 percent, decided against the amendment. One such voter was Birmingham resident Brian Scheer. He said he just didn’t see enough information about the amendment to convince him to approve it.

“I voted no because I think they didn’t do a good job at explaining it,” Scheer said just after he cast his ballot. “I’m not one who’s in big favor of change.”

City Manager Robert Bruner released a statement after the election explaining that despite the loss, the city is undeterred in its plan to reinvent the Triangle District.

“The city has a long history of acquiring property to implement a variety of public improvements. While the charter amendment would have made doing so less expensive and time-consuming in the future, the city will continue to implement the Triangle District Master Plan and other public improvement plans as best it can,” said Bruner in the prepared statement. “There are no specific development plans affected by the election and the city has no immediate plans to put this or another similar charter amendment before the voters.”