Planning Commission reviews comments from public hearing on master plan


Mount Pleasant's Planning Commission moved forward with its master planning process at its regular meeting Thursday, this time wading through a list noteworthy comments about the document made at a June public hearing.

Alan Bean, a consultant for Spicer Group acting as the city's planner, said the drafts of the master plan are at the point where the commission could make a recommendation to the City Commission. This recommendation would allow the city commissioners to adopt the plan.

However, Bean said there were a number of items that could be changed or added to the document. These refinements, he said, could require additional time and effort from the planning commission. Weighing on his mind is the question of how perfect of a plan the planning and city commissions are willing to draft and adopt.

"I think with the number of comments we did receive, we do require further refinement of the draft," Bean said. "But that refinement should be sensitive to how long it would take."

Comments made on the master plan ranged from simple typos, to additions in specific language. Bean also mentioned some the addition of some items that residents and business owners requested that were outside the scope of the original document.

In terms of language changes, one resident requested adding a URL to the non-motorized plan, whereas another suggested adding the state projections of Central Michigan University enrollment.

"There are some sets of data from the state and CMU on that," Bean said. "We've already received CMU's projections for how the university views potential growth. They'll have to work with Shaun (Holtgreive) in understanding if the state has their own projections."

Other areas concerning CMU involved making a language change to the master plan's goals section. In a portion titled "Community Economic Vitality," a section examining ways to bring tourist off the highways and into the downtown area, a suggestion was made to add a CMU museum to that list.

Bean said this does not mean the university has plans to construct a new CMU museum or a museum about CMU, but would rather use one of the existing on-campus attractions, such as the university art gallery.

Among the comments outside the scope of the original plan, three updates topped the bill. These include updates of community services, road use and land use maps within the plan. Bean also mentioned additional public safety strategies as an area that could be added.

For all of these items, Bean said the city staff could easily tackle these changes without much help or effort on the part of the planning commission.

Yet adding these items to the plan could cost more than time, said Bill Mrdeza, director of community services. Mrdeza said he hoped any decision on the planning commission's part would avoid intentional over-reaching of the intended scope, or "scope creep," as he put it.

"A couple things to keep in mind is one, we have a budget," he said. "This was about a year-long project, and because of staff changes it was delayed. The other thing to keep in mind is that there are areas that are easy to address. Maybe the areas such as future land use are followup activities after the document is adopted."

Shaun Holtgreive, the chair of the planning commission and director of residence life at CMU, strongly opposed adding more areas to the master plan, including areas regarding future land use.

"Previous groups voted on what this study should entail, and think we need to stick to that," Holtgreive said. "We have an obligation to get this out so the public has a document to work from. If we are trying to tackle some of this land use stuff, we've spent a significant amount of time trying to deal with (the M-2 zoning district).

"Given the history of some of these areas, we'd spend another year and half coming to an agreement."

Holtgreive said that his hope was to have a recommendation for to city commission soon, assuming all of the information is accurate and updated.

Check back with cm-life.com for more on the city's master planning process.

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