City Council approves Warren’s new master plan

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published January 24, 2021

 The Warren City Council voted unanimously to adopt the city’s first master plan since 1966 on Jan. 12.

The Warren City Council voted unanimously to adopt the city’s first master plan since 1966 on Jan. 12.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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WARREN — The city of Warren’s original land use plan was put in place in 1966 and amended by way of a policy update in 1989. It’s safe to say it was time for an update.

After a process of more than two years, the City Council formally adopted Warren’s new master plan on Jan. 12. The vote was unanimous and came after previous meetings with the council, the Warren Planning Commission, the city’s Planning Department and administrative staff, a series of six town hall meetings with residents and stakeholders across the city, and almost 1,400 survey responses.

“We’re at the end of this kind of state-mandated process. This is the last step in it,” said Leah DuMouchel, a planner with Beckett & Raeder, the city’s consultants on the project.

The entire plan, as approved by the City Council, is available for online viewing at www.warrenmasterplan.org.

DuMouchel highlighted its main points for the council.

“At the highest level, we found, we have recommendations for complete neighborhoods and diverse housing. When choosing where to live, current and future residents will have a range of housing formats to meet their needs, and the neighborhoods will consider access, both with and without a car, to things like green space, commercial convenience and employment,” DuMouchel said.

She said that mobility was a strong theme in the master plan, both with and without a motorized vehicle, and that the development of a network for non-motorized transportation was a “hot topic” in the plan and with the public, not just in Warren, but throughout the region.

“The plan recommendations support that through both right-of-way design recommendations and lane use configuration,” DuMouchel said.

The plan also strives to create “vibrant districts with thoughtfully blended uses.”

“Best planning practices really evolved away from requiring a strict separation of uses per district, which is not really how we build anyways, to envisioning each district as a blend of complementary uses,” DuMouchel said. “This is where our plan is really kind of ahead of the pack, by identifying several use groups and matching them with the geography of the city that best suits them.”

She said the plan was crafted to “reinforce and support” work being done in the city by other organizations, including the Downtown Development Authority’s plans for the “Warren Town Center” project along Van Dyke Avenue, north of 12 Mile Road, a vision she said dates back to the city’s original 1966 plan.

Another theme DuMouchel said came up consistently in the town hall meetings was a need for “bold redevelopment and revitalization” in south Warren. Again, going forward, she said the plan would support steps already being taken, including the city’s construction of its Civic Center South facility on Van Dyke north of Nine Mile Road, with proposed residential/commercial mixed-use developments for the surrounding neighborhood.

The need for added green space also came up consistently.

“It really was the biggest finding for the citizens, that more access to nature is needed at all the scales,” DuMouchel said. “We took a two-pronged approach in the plan to increase public investment through green space and tree canopy, to require and increase private investment through consistent and effective landscaping standards.”

Warren City Councilman Jonathan Lafferty, representing District 2, said he found the master plan to be “a very objective yet very stark examination of the needs and improvements for the city.”

“I’ll tell you that this plan really sets forth some achievable goals and those that are going to stretch the comfort level for residents that have been here for a long time, because it paints of picture that says, we’re stuck and we have a long way to go to become the city that we envision,” Lafferty said. “That’s going to be a challenge for many administrations in the future.”

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