(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 20, 2017)
Ferndale, MI – What does the future hold for the City of Ferndale? On Wednesday the Planning Commission approved a Master Plan that sets over 180 goals for the next five years, covering everything from land use, recreation, city services and economic development.
The Master Plan is required by the State of Michigan and needs to be updated or rewritten at least every five years. The last time Ferndale had a rewrite was 2008, in the midst of a completely different economic environment and when most of the City’s current administration was not yet on the job.
“In 2008 the city looked a lot at background and existing conditions. We had to really look at where we were before we could look forward, and figure out how to get through tough times that all cities went through,” said City Planner Justin Lyons. “This Master Plan is really about implementation. We have a strong community. Now what do we want to accomplish?”
Lyons explained that throughout the entire plan there is an emphasis on environmentally conscious planning. “We talked about if sustainability should have its own section, but we thought that is part of everything we are doing,” Lyons said.
The Master Plan is expected to get final approval by City Council on Monday.
While there are over 180 action items in the plan, here are 15 that readers may find interesting:
RENOVATE MARTIN ROAD PARK – Martin Road Park has 32 acres of space that includes sports fields, play structures, restrooms and a sledding hill. According to the Master Plan “Martin Road Park has tremendous potential not just as a great community amenity but also as a visitor draw, that could increase local spending. The Parks and Recreation Master Plan has details of the park’s potential, including an improved pedestrian path, adding an amphitheater, adding playground equipment, adding a volleyball court, adding a splash pad, and adding stormwater features to collect water and natural landscaping that would help with drainage and reduce maintenance. It could also be the site of a recreation center with concessions, restrooms, changing rooms, storage and multi-purpose indoor space.
CONSIDER THE LONG-TERM USE OF THE KULICK COMMUNITY CENTER – In the City’s outreach they received a lot of feedback about the desire for improvements at Kulick Center. The center currently has meeting rooms, a gymnasium, fitness studio, activity rooms, and a kitchen and dining area. Outside is a playground with basketball. “While the building underwent extensive renovations when it first opened, the fitness equipment has become outdated and other parts of the building need major upgrades and renovations to meet quality standards,” states the Master Plan. The plan calls for taking an extensive look at the center and “evaluate the long-term viability.” The plan does not delve into any specifics, simply calls upon the city and residents to give it some thought.
CREATE A FERNDALE STREET TREE NURSERY – Ferndale loves trees, and several action items call for the addition and maintenance of the city’s “urban tree canopy.” One item is “the creation of a city-owned and/or operated street tree nursery [that] would provide the opportunity for a steady stream of trees within Ferndale to be replanted as needed within the city.” There was no mention of potential locations.
BE A MODEL OF SUSTAINABLE DESIGN IN THE UPCOMING DPW YARDS RENOVATION – The DPW is due for upgrades and this is a great opportunity for the City to showcase the work the department does as well as “the entirely new opportunity for the DPW to act as an educator, demonstrating sustainability elements such as green stormwater infrastructure and/or solar power to the public so they can see the benefits and learn practical application practices.” A rendering of the DPW yard shows it as a welcoming place, where people can drop off recycling, volunteer in a raingarden, and have classes for adults and kids to learn about environmental issues.
GREEN STORMWATER – Several action items involve using environmentally conscious designs to mitigate flooding caused by stormwater. Among the goals is encouraging green features in new development, adding features to parks and public spaces, and allowing residents and business owners to add green features to their properties. Potential features include “adding trees, bioretention planters, bioswales in underutilized setback, replacing impervious servious with pervious concrete or asphalt or permeable pavers, implementing green alleys and treen roofs and capturing and reusing stormwater in cisterns.”
CREATE AND ADOPT A DARK SKY LIGHTING ORDINANCE – According to the Master Plan “In urbanized areas across the globe, light pollution is almost a universal issue. While the city of Ferndale falls within a larger metropolitan issue, Ferndale can take steps to become a leader.” It calls for an ordinance that “should specify the type of lighting that can be used at various locations throughout the city to best limit glare and further light pollution.”
RESTORE FERNDALE’S PUBLIC ALLEYS – Many alleys have been vacated over time, mainly due to maintenance issues. However, the city wants to restore them. “Alleys offer one of the best ways to increase density within the existing urban fabric through compact, infill development – where single-family homes, duplexes, townhomes and other medium-density housing type are arranged next to one another without being separated by driveways and underutilized side lots.” Alleys also can have environmental benefits “such as bioretention planters, street trees and permeable paving.”
ALLOW AND ENCOURAGE NEIGHBORHOOD COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT TO GIVE RESIDENTS RETAIL AMENITIES IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS, SUCH AS NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD MARKETS AND CAFES – “The intent is to have an appropriate scale of neighborhood-serving amenities and services within walking distance of a residential population that can support them,” the plan states. This would involve zoning considerations, parking requirements, and business regulations.
SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP NETWORKS AND ASSISTANCE TO STARTUP FIRMS – Several action items are designed to help businesses start up and existing businesses thrive. “The City should work with the private sector to ensure entrepreneurs have the resources, infrastructure, and information they need to take their business to the next level. Small business days, small business guides, and social programs/ events are ways the City can help entrepreneurs network and grow the small business community in Ferndale. Access to small business loans and/ or grants and business development classes are ways that community development organizations, financial institutions, educational institutions, and other organizations can be involved in encouraging successful business growth,” states the Master Plan. It also calls for providing “studio space to foster collaboration, creativity and innovation.”
ENCOURAGE NEIGHBORHOOD STEWARDSHIP AND PROVIDE RESOURCES FOR NEIGHBORS TO ORGANIZE – Residents have expressed desire for neighborhood groups. The Dales and Woodland Park are examples. The question for the city is how to help groups like that develop and be sustainable. “Since getting started can be the hardest part…the City of Ferndale can help overcome this hurdle both by being a resource to facilitate this process and by creating an information brochure and/or webpage.
PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR HOMEOWNERS TO UPDATE AND REMODEL THEIR HOMES AND PROPERTIES – “Much of Ferndale’s housing stock is on the older and smaller end of the spectrum relative to nearby communities,” states the Master Plan. The plan calls for many ways to encourage home remodeling and improvement, including educating the public about opportunities, showcasing local examples, promote energy efficient investments, and assist residents in need with maintenance and repairs.
PROMOTE GOOD LANDLORDS THROUGH AN INCENTIVES AND MARKETING PROGRAM – The Master Plan states “Promoting good landlord-tenant relationships will help boost property maintenance and resident retention.” The plan calls for exploring ways to support good landlords, including possible promotion in a newsletter, and providing a welcome packet for landlords and tenants.
CONSIDER CREATING DESIGN STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES FOR COMMERCIAL CORRIDORS – “Currently, the City’s “TOD District Overlay” provides additional design requirements for areas in the CBD and along Woodward; however, it is limited in scope and geography. The City should consider reconceptualizing the overlay district as one that applies to all or targeted portions of Ferndale’s commercial corridors – Woodward, Nine Mile, Eight Mile, Hilton, South Livernois, and West Marshall. The new and improved overlay would build on the “TOD District Overlay” standards to include additional design elements that deeply impact the public realm, such as lighting, signage, parking areas, and implementation of green stormwater infrastructure,” the plan states.
EXPAND SENIOR LIVING HOUSING OPTIONS – Several items listed in the Master Plan address the needs of the aging population and the creation of housing so older adults can be welcomed to live in Ferndale. The plan calls for special land use provisions to allow senior living options, increasing affordable housing, and to “pursue strategic partnerships to develop senior housing at different income levels.”
PROMOTE AND IMPROVE TRANSPORTATION DIVERSITY – The Master Plan gives several action items to improve public transit and non-motorized transportation options, including establishing a designated staff position to coordinate transportation planning, and using the “Ferndale Moves” website as the primary resource for non-motorized transportation resources. Other goals include improving pedestrian conditions, promoting ride share opportunities, creating bicycle-themed events, and improving transit stop facilities.
Mayor Dave Coulter is looking forward to having the plan presented at City Council on Monday. “This Master Plan is more than just a planning document, it’s a step-by-step action plan to achieve our vision of a city of progress, equity, sustainability and resilience. It’s a roadmap for success, drafted and improved with wonderful public participation, and we’re excited to get to work on it,” he said.
For the full Master Plan go to https://app.box.com/s/0nkwh2n875fseunj9u76pizd939f2w51/1/10998577231/121363223032/1.