Thursday, January 7, 2021

City seeking public input into development plans

Members of the Northville Planning Commission have invited all residents to participate in a comprehensive survey for the Master Plan update of the Cady Street, racetrack and S. Center Street. subareas. This second survey is designed to consolidate public input for a shared vision for redevelopment with benefits for the entire community, officials said. The subarea update to the Master Plan will allow city officials to communicate a desired vision to developers for this part of town, they added. 

Survey responses will help members of the planning commission solidify concepts prior to drafting the language for the Master Plan subareas. The link to the survey is open until Jan. 31. Those who cannot complete the survey online can  contact the city manager's office for a paper copy. 

This survey is more detailed than the first one with sections for open-ended comments, choices for streets and walkways, preferred visions for land use (as depicted in game boards from the open houses), as well as standard ranges of how strongly residents agree or disagree with a statement. 

The survey explores each of the subareas with questions about many topics, including building height, density, walkability, and parks - not just green space but also the concept of integrating retail and event vendors along a common public area, such as a riverwalk. It also addresses limitations, such as the flood plain around Northville Downs, and the fact that development must be profitable for the developer/builder, a spokesman said.  

Public Input Subcommittee Member Donna Tinberg said the survey was drafted by the subcommittee and Carlisle Wortman Associates. It was further refined with suggestions by the planning commissioners and public comment at the  December meeting of the commission.

“We looked at the results of the first survey and the open houses and developed questions that dig more deeply into those concepts,” Tinberg said. 

She noted that this is the last formal opportunity for residents and others vested in the future of Northville to provide input before the Master Plan revision of these three subareas is drafted. Public comment is always welcome at Planning Commission meetings. As such, it asks questions about difficult choices often encountered when planning for future growth, she said.

“This survey is longer and more complex than the first survey, and in that way it will provide additional data points to give us a sense of how people who respond to the survey might prioritize the hard choices that will have to be made when developers build on these properties,” Tinberg added.  

When the survey closes on Jan. 31, Carlisle Wortman Associates representatives will consolidate the responses, find themes within the open-ended questions, and present the results to the subcommittee and planning commission. They, in turn, will also see all of the responses and may draw similar or different conclusions. 

Initial data is expected to be released about four to six weeks after the survey closes. 

While COVID-19 has slowed the process of revising the subareas in the Master Plan, it has prompted greater attendance at Zoom meetings than in-person meetings - most likely because of the convenience of not having to leave home to attend, Tinberg noted.