The City of Brighton has an ambitious list of planning and economic development strategies, covering a wide range of areas including neighborhood preservation and revitalization, recreation planning, specific site redevelopment, and downtown revitalization. At last week’s City Council Study Session, Community Development staff and City planning consultants, Giffels Webster, led a conversation about the City’s progress to date with the Zoning Code update as well as a proposal to update the City’s Master Plan.
Community Development staff proposed a much more comprehensive approach to updating the Master Plan; the proposal includes developing a Downtown Development Plan, Recreation Plan, and Complete Streets Plan to amalgamate into the Master Plan. By including these focused plans and compiling them into one concise document, the City will ensure that the document offers consistency. The Comprehensive Master Plan will assist in achieving the many goals and objectives to be outlined through an analysis of existing conditions and public input received throughout the Master Plan process. Once the process is complete, the Planning Commission and City Council will be able to incorporate the plan for future development to create a long-term vision for the City.
A downtown assessment will be completed to provide a general analysis of signage, lighting, landscaping, pedestrian amenities, building facades, and site maintenance downtown to assist in developing goals and objectives for Downtown Brighton. An action plan will be enacted to guide a number of downtown development strategies and the Downtown Development Plan will provide design principles specifically for downtown development to create and promote a vibrant community.
There is high demand for public spaces and recreation opportunities. A Recreation Plan will be implemented to protect and enhance our recreation areas for our many residents and visitors. By having a Recreation Plan in place, the City will become eligible and competitive for grant funding through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. In addition to high demand for public spaces and recreation opportunities, the City is aware that pedestrian friendliness is necessary in Downtown Brighton and its surrounding neighborhoods. By creating a Complete Streets Plan, the City will create goals and objectives that place a high priority on non-motorized transportation and connectivity; this will include implementation strategies for shared use pathways, and updated signage and sidewalks.
While the Comprehensive Master Plan will assist with the long-term development needs of the City, in the short-term Community Development staff can implement redevelopment ready strategies to assist residents and developers throughout the development process.
Community Development staff also presented suggestions to City Council to streamline development services at City Hall including website updates, the creation of a development guide, assigning an intake manager to planning applications, and effective project tracking.
Community Development staff recommended allowing applicants to submit applications and pay permit fees online, as well as making the website more user friendly by reducing the number of tabs to get to a specific page. The suggested development guide would include staff contact information, meeting schedules and deadlines, process flowcharts, meeting procedures, and design guidelines for development. The intake manager will be responsible for receiving and processing all applications and maintaining contact with the applicant. The intake manager will also be responsible for facilitating meetings between City staff and the applicant, and processing applications once through the approval process. These recommended improvements will create an efficient one-stop source for project planning.
By taking a more comprehensive approach to updating the Master Plan, the City will be able to ensure that the long-term goals and objectives are consistent and achievable.