Heights master plan on tap for revision

By SHERRI KOLADE and ANDREA POTEET
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — The city’s master plan is one step closer to adoption after a council vote Sept. 11.

The City Council voted to have the Planning Commission review the five-year master plan after debates about what department should lead the charge in handling the city’s master plan.

Before the council vote, a lengthy discussion on the topic ensued when Councilwoman Janet Badalow asked councilors why the item was on the agenda without mentioning it to Planning Commission first, who helped create the previous master plan.

Badalow referenced the Michigan Legislature amended the Municipal Planning Act, PA 285 of 1931, which discusses the procedures of city planning which says “at least every five years after adoption of a master plan a planning commission shall review the master plan and determine whether to commence the procedure to amend the master plan or adopt a new master plan.”

“The question to everyone is ‘why are we not following the public act as written?’” Badalow asked the councilors.

Planning Commissioner Jumana Judeh spoke at the meeting, saying no one asked the commissioners to look at the master plan.

“I’m not really sure on what basis the recommendation was made but I think the planning commission should be given an opportunity to discuss this and then make the recommendation to you all,” Judeh said.

Mayor Dan Paletko told the councilors that the city was updating the plan to comply with state grants.

“Many state grants require a five-year master plan and that is why it is important to do that,” he said.

Paletko added that the recommendation was from Community and Economic Development Director Ron Amen.

“Everyone agreed that we would be best served,” Paletko said.

Council President Kenneth Baron said any city can apply for the grants, which could be used to improve a senior center, recreation department or a police force.

Baron said the plan will help the city stay one step ahead of grants the city may apply for. The last city master plan was adopted on May 8, 2007.

“There isn’t anything immediately (we see) but we want to be ready when they pop up,” Baron said of the grants. “We literally have to be ready and prepared for this money. But at this point there isn’t anything we are going to lose.”

Amen said the proposal to update the city’s master plan was a joint decision and “it was time to go back and take a look at this plan and do some tweaking.”

Amen said that the old master plan will work as a template to help build the new master plan.

“Economics of the city have changed immensely in the last five years,” Amen said. “The old master plan does not fit what we will be challenged with in the next five years.”

The city planning commission plans to meet in the near future to discuss revisions on the city’s five- year master plan.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)