Mount Pleasant City Commission approves 2050 Master Plan, receives updates from CMU
Mount Pleasant City Commission received updates on Central Michigan University, approved the city’s 2050 Master Plan, and extended temporary permitting for businesses at its Nov. 9 meeting.
President Bob Davies updated the city commission on ways Central Michigan University is combating COVID-19, the start of the football season and enrollment.
Davies attributed the statewide increase in cases to small gatherings and travel. To combat the issue, Davies said CMU is doing health screening, COVID-19 testing and eliminating spring break to hopefully lessen traveling.
The start of the football season also raises concerns regarding the spread of the virus. However, Davies said the university is testing athletes four to five times a week.
Davies also mentioned the beginning of the season and said CMU's nationally televised game Nov. 4 win over Ohio University reached 711,000.
“Even though we are not having fans, we are getting great television coverage for our university and, more importantly, for our community,” Davies said.
Davies did not hesitate to discuss decreasing enrollment that CMU is projected to face moving forward.
“I won’t deny any challenges that we have, and this is definitely going to be a tough time for enrollment,” Davies said.
Davies told commissioners CMU is being “aggressive” in its marketing by launching a new brand, increasing outreach to key markets, increasing scholarships and working to launch a new website.
Commissioners George Ronan and Lori Gillis made a point to commend Davies on his communication with the city.
“I’ve been in the community for a long time and have seen how pleased everyone is with your willingness to work with the community,” Ronan said. “It goes a huge way with not only small town-and-gown issues, but just making it better for everybody. I don’t remember another president that has reached out this much.”
2050 Master Plan
The public hearing for the 2050 Master Plan was held at the Nov. 9 meeting as well. This project got its start in 2018, and the city spent many meetings preparing the plan for approval.
The city commission chose to adopt and approve the master plan. The plan covers ideas such as the creation and implementation of sustainable land use, upkeep on parks and public spaces and downtown redevelopment.
As the city commission further discussed last night, some concerns arose regarding the content of the plan.
Commissioner Petro Tolas voiced his concerns with the logistics of the plan. He does not think the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will be as compliant as the master plan makes it appear.
Mayor Will Joseph said he doesn’t believe these concerns are the purpose of the plan.
“I know Commissioner Tolas is a little bit critical of paying for someone to do these plans and their specific knowledge on what it costs to build and rent in downtown,” Joseph said. “I don’t think this plan is meant to directly address those specific issues. I think it's more about placemaking and urban design and broad strokes of what a community can do to make progress to further itself.”
As a response to the concerns, Vice Mayor Amy Perschbacher also reminded commissioners that changes can be made at a later date.
“The master plan is a living document just like many of the things that we pass here. They’re living documents, they’re not etched in steel, they can be changed,” Perschbacher said.
The online version of the plan can be found on the city website.
Outdoor business permits
To continue to help local businesses, the approval of temporary outdoor business activity permits this action was extended to March 14, 2021.
This decision also expedites any approval processes for the utilization of such outdoor spaces. Certain fees associated with utilizing this outdoor space are also being waived.
Although it is not certain how this permitting will work during the winter, the city wants to allow the option for businesses.
“We are not certain how many businesses will be able to take advantage of this permitting due to the weather conditions, but we would like to have the flexibility to be able to assist any of those businesses who do find a way to make that work.” City Manager Nancy Ridley said.