Holly Residents Weigh in at Master Planning Open House
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 2, 2020)
Holly, MI – It’s been over 20 years since the Village of Holly went through a complete Master Plan rewriting process, and part of the public discussion took place Wednesday at the Karl Richter Center.
A Master Plan is a document required by state law for communities that have zoning requirements.  Michigan State University Extension explains master plans on their website, stating  “A master plan shall address land use and infrastructure issues and may project 20 years or more into the future. A master plan shall include maps, plats, charts, and descriptive, explanatory, and other related matter and shall show the planning commission’s recommendations for the physical development of the planning jurisdiction”
Mater plans include:
-A land use plan that includes a classification and allocation of land for various uses
-Recommendations on infrastructure including transportation for all users of roadways
-Recommendations for redevelopment or rehabilitation of blighted areas
-For a local unit of government that has adopted a zoning ordinance, a zoning plan
-Recommendations for implementing any of the master plan’s proposals.
Rowe Professional Services is leading the Master Plan process. At Wednesday’s two open houses (one in the afternoon, one in the evening), they handed out surveys and were on hand to talk with residents about various aspects of village life.
Among the topics were transportation, pedestrians, improving neighborhoods, lake access, and commercial development.
The survey asked participants about the importance of specific items, such as “How supportive are you of working with the Township to connect the high school to the village offices with a sidewalk?”, “How important is it that new development and redevelopment fits in with the existing historic downtown character?”, and “How important is creating opportunities for single-family redevelopment and additional choice in higher density housing such as condominiums and cluster housing?”
Adrian Barnes is a resident who attended the afternoon session. When asked what topics are most important to him, Barnes said it’s the nature and the recreation that he loves.  “Holly used to be a big recreational hub,” he said.  “People would come from Detroit and this was like ‘up north’ to them.  We’ve still got places like Seven Lakes or the Mill Pond, but there’s talk about improving trails and connecting things better.”
He said he kayaks the Shiawassee River, putting his boat in by Waterworks Park.  “I know they tore the waterworks building down, but I’d like to know what we’re going to do there.”
He also mentioned the value of Mill Pond.  “In a lot of places we’ve lost public access… I want people to be able to see the waterfront.”
Barnes and about 50 residents attended the open house, chatting about the topics with local officials and consultants from Rowe. Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown and members of her staff were also on hand for local office hours.
When Oakland County Times asked Village Manager Jerry Walker what’s on his mind in terms of planning, he brought up “aging in place.”
“That’s really important. Right now there are third, fourth, and even fifth generation Holly residents. There are a lot of people who grew up here and want to stay in the community as they age,” he said.
The Village has many large historic homes, with stairs that can be a challenge for people with mobility issues.  Upkeep on large homes and yards can also be a challenge.  Communities across the country are tackling the lack of apartments and assisted living facilities, as well as what looking what municipal services older adults need such as transportation and home repair/upkeep assistance.  The Village already partners with SMART for individualized transportation service, and there are activities through both the Village and the Township recreation departments that seniors can enjoy. On Walker’s mind is both how to help Holly seniors stay in their homes, and how to have the right mix of housing options to suit the community’s needs.
Walker said that the Downtown is also important to the Village and it’s residents.  Over the past few years the downtown has blossomed with new businesses investment.  The Downtown Development Authority has teams of volunteers who not only help with fun events, but work on strategic investments as well.  A simple addition of string lights over Battle Alley, and new murals on the buildings, have helped create a special sense of place in the heart of the community.
“The commercial district has one occupied vacant storefront, everything else is full. The apartments are 75% full.  It’s a busy downtown area,” Walker said.  The next challenge for the downtown, he said, is parking.  “The DDA has already started looking at this problem, and I think we’ll see some parking management ideas coming forward soon.”
In addition to answering questions, residents had a page to write in their own comments.
Next Rowe will compile the survey results to be presented to the Planning Commission either in February or March. The Master Planning Process takes about 6-8 months with multiple opportunities for resident feedback.  The Village has an email list for events and announcements. Residents who want to be in the know can sign up on the Village of Holly website www.hollyvillage.org.