The Flint Planning Commission met on February 9. The main item of business was to review the first seven articles of the updated draft zoning code. The Imagine Flint website has notes from that conversation on it as well as comments received from the public. In the coming months, there will be some additional public input meetings on select zoning topics. There was a larger-scale public input series of meetings last summer that included ward workshops and a dozen comment boxes at places around town.
The other matters we discussed included a staff update on pending legislation that would dramatically weaken local historic districts. It was very concerning legislation. The bills (HB 5232/SB720) would reduce the power of historic districts, increase the local property owner’s control, and automatically sunset historic districts every ten years unless each was explicitly renewed. (This may not sound like much of a hurdle until you consider that besides the larger historic districts for Civic Park and Carriage Town, there are many smaller or even building-specific local historic designations. Even the bricks on Saginaw St. are their own historic district!)
In other matters, we were informed that the version of the capital improvement plan that the Planning Commission approved (which added a project for replacing interior plumbing in homes related to damage from the water situation and a requirement that all of the listed projects related to the water situation be identified) is still being updated to reflect those changes. Once that draft is updated, it should be scheduled before the City Council Subcommittee on Planning and Development before going to the full council. I have also requested that the newest draft be posted to www.imagineflint.com.
We have also begun sketching out the annual March update and report out on the Master Plan. Stay tuned for a final date- at the last steering committee meeting, members tentatively placed a hold on our calendars for March 15. This occasion will be an opportunity to recognize the important contributions of the people who have served on the Master Plan Steering Committee over the last 5 years. It is also a chance to report to the community the progress on implementing the Master Plan, and, I think, and important way to demonstrate how the plan (which includes a Capital Improvement Plan) better positions us to deal with the water crisis. As challenging as it has been, I believe it would have been even more difficult to address the infrastructure side without having a plan in place.
Furthermore, when I saw an article this week that fully rejected the notion that replacing service lines should be in any way tied to home values, I was reminded of the Master Plan’s guiding principle of social equity. At the start of the planning process, there were some- many from outside Flint- who thought it made sense to “shrink” the city and presumably displace people in less dense areas. The whole community rose up against that idea and instead affirmed the importance of creating a good quality of life in all neighborhoods, whether they were more densely or less densely populated. (Incidentally, you can see this idea borne out in the proposed zoning code, which addresses the reality we will nbof high vacancy areas by creating a Green Neighborhood district, whereby residents can assemble adjacent lots to create more of a suburban-sized yard.)
Anyhow… in terms of this Tuesday’s meeting (6:00 pm on February 23), we will be starting on articles 8 and 9 on the draft zoning code. They are rather lengthy, so chances are we will not get through all of it in one night. There is also a site plan review for turning the former Coolidge Elementary into a mixed-use residential facility, including a new building to be constructed alongside repurposing the school.