City updates residents on master plan

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 3, 2016

 Residents look over the maps included in the new master plan.

Residents look over the maps included in the new master plan.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SOUTHFIELD — Members of the Planning Commission invited residents to sit in on an overview of the city’s new master plan recently.

The commission conducted the public workshop and open house to gather comments on the proposed plan Jan. 20 in the Parks and Recreation building.

Prior to residents providing their input, City Planner Terry Croad gave an overview and timeline of the plan.

According to Croad, through Feb. 4, the Planning Commission will make its final revisions to the first draft of the master plan. On Feb. 8, the commission will present the draft to the City Council. On Feb. 29, the council will release the draft to the public and review the plan for 63 days. On March 4, the plan will be distributed to surrounding communities in Oakland County and will be released on the Web.

Residents will have an opportunity to provide their input again at a public hearing toward the end of May, Croad said. By June 20, the plan will go before the City Council again for final approval or denial.

Croad provided an executive summary of the 500-page plan prior to public comment.

“We’re required by the state to update the master plan every five years,” Croad said. “Yearly, we’re supposed to take a look at it and make needed changes. We did a comprehensive review and had to make the decision if we’re going to amend the plan or make a new plan. In 2014, the City Council authorized a complete update of the master plan.”

One of the key aspects that the commission focused on in the overhaul was the city’s land use pattern.

Croad said that in the past, companies used to go where the land resources were. Today, that’s a different story.

“Young talent today decide where they want to live first and then look for a job, so we have to understand that as one of the fastest-growing communities in the 1960s as a first-ring suburb of Detroit, we’ve developed a very auto-dominated land use pattern and it’s served us well for many decades,” Croad said.

To be competitive with other cities, Croad said Southfield needs to create a sense of place.

“You’ll hear me over and over again (talk about) creating a sense of place — making it more pedestrian-friendly, making the community more walkable. We’re going to talk about healthy living — active living. Creating a community for retired individuals and seniors are all important for us to be competitive as we move toward the future,” Croad said.

Croad also discussed a survey by the AARP where participants were asked to rank the places they lived in based on “livability.” Participants ages 50 and older were asked to rank their cities on housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment and other areas. Southfield received a score of 49 out of a possible 100. The median is 50, Croad said.

Southfield can do better, Croad said.

“We want to offer a place where a doctor and a custodian can live in the same community; can participate in religious services and shop; can send their kids to good, quality schools; and can hopefully enjoy art and culture in the same place,” Croad said.

Residents were asked to share their ideas with the commission on what they would like to see in the new place. Residents spoke about the city having a better relationship with the school system, restoring library hours, walkability and green energy.

“Our buildings are aging. I suggest that when you replace roofing and stuff like that, go to solar or sustainable energy resources instead of the tradition of gas, oil and fire services,” resident Harmen Gunther said at the meeting.

Darla Van Hoey, of the Southfield Historical Society, made a suggestion about the city’s historical sites.

“I think the historical aspect of the Burgh (Historical Park) as well as Mary Thompson (Farm) — I think tying all those in together with a map or kind of a brochure that shows all of our walkable areas,” Van Hoey said at the meeting.

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