It's an interesting time to be alive.
As recently as a couple decades ago, it would be hard to imagine what life looks like today a global pandemic, contentious and divisive politics, super-computer phones in our pocket, and constant access to unchecked information available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As with any paradigm shift, the way we organize ourselves and our communities has a slight delay following the new habits and technologies we adopt.
After the automobile was created, we began designing our cities with roads suited for car travel, instead of walking. And after we created large industrial factories, we developed dense urban areas where there would be enough housing available for all of the workers at the factories to live nearby a story that resonates very much with the Downriver region.
We're now at a point where it's time to make substantial decisions at a local level about how Downriver will look for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. And it starts with the McLouth Steel site in Trenton.
The Trenton Planning Commission is holding an online meeting via Zoom at 7 p.m. July 22 to vote on whether to recommend adopting a new zoning ordinance changing the current names, and some of the land use.
The former McLouth Steel property is currently zoned for mixed use, which allows for office buildings, hotels, restaurants, colleges and public waterfront access. This new plan wants to rezone the property for a new category labeled "industrial waterfront," which includes everything in the new I-1 category like railroad and truck transfer stations, and developments like outdoor shipping storage container yards and power plants.
As a member of the Trenton Zoning Board of Appeals for the past several years, it's required that applicants seeking a zoning change submit a site plan for our review, with the option to set conditional zoning. For instance, if someone wants to build a fence, we may require them to create an angled corner so they can see oncoming traffic.
The problem with a full-scale zoning structure change is that we're writing a blank check to an industrial developer with endless pockets to do whatever he wishes with some of the most important land for our Downriver region's waterfront economic development without even giving us any idea of what he'll do with it, whether it's to build the previously proposed intermodal shipping port or sell it to any other developer to do as they please.
If you and I need to submit a plan to the city in order to build a fence, or put on a hip roof instead of a gable roof, then it only makes sense to require a site plan to rezone one of the region's largest and most important developments in recent history especially considering the precedent this would set with the upcoming closures of the DTE plants in Trenton and River Rouge, and what may be done with those properties in the future.
I ask you to take the time to register and attend the Zoom meeting, which is open to the public, to voice your concerns that Trenton shouldn't write a blank check for rezoning 192 football fields worth of prime waterfront land without the submission of a site plan.
At the very least, we should be allowed to know what we're getting ourselves into when we give up the last bit of control we have left of our region's future.
You can use this link to access the proposed changes, zoning map and register for the meeting to give your public comments via Zoom at 7 p.m. July 22: bit.ly/3h53QUD.
If you're unable to attend, please submit a letter voicing your concerns to be read into the record to the Trenton Planning Commission by 5 p.m. July 20:
City of Trenton
2800 Third St.
Trenton, Michigan 48183
Ryan Stewart is a member of the Trenton Zoning Board of Appeals and is running as a Democrat for the Wayne County Commission's 15th District.
See the article here:
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