Walkable community consultant, Dan Burden, is shown taking Whitehall officials and community members on a tour of the city’s downtown to look at walkability issues in June, 2011. He supplied the city with a technical memorandum which may be used in updati
The City of Whitehall is taking another look at the future development of the community, and it has a lot more information available for making decisions.
The city is updating its Master Plan, a blueprint for development of the community and a guideline for zoning. It is to be used as a guide for public and private development.
The update is a project of the city’s Planning Commission, but must receive final approval by the city council. The process will include public input.
Tanya Cabala, city council member and planner, said a committee of the planning commission is currently going over the current Master Plan which was approved by the city council on Feb. 14, 2006. The committee last met last Wednesday.
“We’re looking at updating the data and changing categories,” she said.
Cabala and City Clerk Karen Williams said the city has had trouble obtaining updated demographic information for the city from the 2010 U.S. Census.
“The Census is no longer collecting information on housing and jobs for local communities,” Williams said.
Cabala said the city has a couple of key planning documents to use in updating its Master Plan.
In 2006, consultant HyettPalma provided a downtown blueprint for future development as a part of the Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan’s Downtowns. The blueprint included business and resident surveys.
The city has implemented some of the recommendations from the blueprint, and has a downtown retail committee which looks at ways to improve the downtown.
Slowing traffic downtown was one recommendation implement when the city narrowed Colby Street from four lanes to three lanes, including a turning lane, in the downtown area.
Another document completed in 2001, is a Technical Memorandum on Walkability downtown by Dan Buren of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.
Buren visited Whitehall for several days, walked the downtown and held a public input session, before developing the document which gives recommendations on making the downtown more walkable and livable. The recommendations included reducing traffic lanes (done), develop a gateway to the downtown, add on-street angled parking, provide urban form for downtown buildings, enhance streetscape, enhance the intersection of Colby Street and Mears Ave, develop raised median around the curve near the bridge on Colby, enhance the waterfront view for W. Colby St., plant trees, reduce off-street parking requirements, provide more on-street parking (especially on side streets and in front of Whitehall City Hall, provide accessible streets facilities, and increase focus on living-in places with seating places.
Cabala said planners will seek community input on the Master Plan goals and hopes to schedule a community meeting by summer.