2018-01-11 / News

Master plan, sign ordinance changes discussed

Smart phone app to help residents participate
By Paula K. Schmidt
810-452-2647 • pschmidt@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC TWP. — With the Dort Highway extension nearing start of construction, and anticipating it the expansion of the Genesys-Ascension campus, planners probably couldn’t have picked a better time to initiate a review of the township Master Plan.

In addition, the township is planning a development of its own in Technology Village and all together these three projects have the potential to change the face of the southern portion of the county for many years to come.

Brand-new fulltime Director of Planning and Building, Mark Lloyd joined the Planning Commission last week in a discussion of the proposed review and update of the plan which hasn’t been substantially changed since 2012 according to planning Consultant Rod Arroyo of Giffels-Webster.

Although zoning is in place for Technology Village and Holly Road proposed retail, planners discussed updating other areas of the plan that perhaps weren’t looked at in the last five years due to the slowed economy.

Two areas mentioned were the S. Saginaw and Hill Road corridors. Hill Road is already seeing some transition of residential property to commercial with the addition of a Taco Bell in the plaza at the intersection of Fenton Road, but planner see potential for that to not only continue, but spread to the north side of Hill Road. Both sides show as “office” zoning on the 2010 Future Land Use Map.

New to this review, Arroyo said they will be able to harness the power of smart phones and social media to broaden public participation in the process, specifically using a tool known as “Picture This” in which anyone with a smart phone can take a picture of an aspect of the township they like or don’t like and share it in one location with specific comments.

Arroyo said they could even use pictures of other places which have features residents would like to incorporate into the township.

Residents who aren’t smart phone or computers users will be able to participate in a survey on paper which will be available at the township office as well as online. Arroyo also discussed getting community organizations, businesses and other groups involved in promoting the survey when it is available; to give officials the biggest sample representation of public opinion.

In addition, a public open house will eventually be held which residents can attend and visualize suggestions and plans and get and give feedback.

“We want to hear fresh ideas,” Arroyo said, “we want to hear what people really think about the future of the township.”

A public website of the project will be developed to allow the public to keep tabs on the process as well. Officials will look at economic and demographic data, updating land-use elements, incorporation of natural features and coordinating information and suggested changes with the Planning Commission and creating a finalized summary.

On the land-use plan, Arroyo emphasized plans for implantation as opposed to just a vision on paper—including zoning as was done for Technology Village, which will also have an updated market analysis in this process as well.

A piece of the master plan will include redevelopment strategy, such as participation in the Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) guidelines from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, something which the City of Grand Blanc has almost completed. This might apply to the S. Saginaw and Hill Road corridors.

Trustee Al Mansour also mentioned incorporating some work one of the subcommittees did over the summer on future development and Arroyo said that certainly could be looked at in terms of additional information.

The master plan is typically about a year-long process and might be ready in early fall or later. Additionally, the Planners and the board of trustees will likely have a joint meeting March 27 to discuss issues in general and ensure they are on similar paths. The planners recommended approval of the Giffels-Webster proposed scope of work to the board of trustees.

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