Citizen involvement shaping growth and development

Communities have been in transition from the typical car-focused development known as urban sprawl to smart growth or compact, higher-density development that is now known as the preferred way to grow an urban downtown.  New development projects that include retail space, new housing and office space needs to be easy to walk to, close to transit, increase housing choices and the new or remodeled building fits in with the character of the community. As the local real estate market in Metro Detroit and in Ferndale picks up steam after the Great Recession, communities can expect highly desirable property in urban downtowns to draw significant interest from developers.

This transition from one-story and only one use (office space, for example) buildings to more compact, multiple uses (retail, housing and office) can be an anxious experience for residents and businesses, as planning for a specific project gets underway.  In all honesty, its an anxious experience as a city council person too because I want to get development projects right for the Ferndale community.

choosing our communityI want to share what I think is a fantastic resource written for citizens to inform how they can become more engaged in the planning and development project conversation in their community.

Smart Growth America, a non-profit that advocates for “people who want to live and work in great neighborhoods”.  I follow SGA’s advocacy efforts at the federal level…the advocate for better policy and funding that benefits Detroit and smaller communities like Ferndale.

A great quote from SGA’s Choosing Our Community’s Future citizens guide that resonates with me is “the goal is to manage growth so that it improves, rather than degrades quality of life, but without shutting down economic growth.”  This is what we desire in Ferndale–managing change effectively with ongoing, engagement and feedback from the community.

This citizens guide explains:

  • What smart growth is an how to become involved in the planning process
  • Citizen introduction to planning, zoning and development
  • Overview of the Development Process (five phases)
  • Some tips how to evaluate a development project
  • A glossary of planning terms

I hope many residents find this resource useful. Let me know what you think!





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