Monday, May 26, 2008

Spotlight: "Green Grand Rapids"

Taking part in the Master Speakers Series during GTH's June 23rd morning sessions will be Grand Rapids, MI, Mayor George Hartwell. He'll be speaking on the intitiatives that Grand Rapids has taken to civically foster a green future for that city.

You can read all about Grand Rapids' efforts in a special section of their city's site here. We'll give you some of the high points, though:

The City of Grand Rapids completed a two-year planning process to update its 1963 Master Plan and Future Land Use Map on November 11, 2002. The Grand Rapids Master Plan contains seven interrelated themes: great neighborhoods, vital business districts, a strong economy, balanced transportation, a city that enriches our lives, a city in balance with nature and partnerships.

These themes were developed based on the involvement of over 3,000 Grand Rapidians in more than 250 community meetings. The Master Plan, a broad-brush policy document that defines community goals for the physical environment of the city, has not gathered dust. It has served, and continues to serve, its citizens well. Developers arrive at the Planning Department with their Master Plan in-hand describing projects that will enhance our community. Neighborhood associations are creating awardwinning area-specific plans that add detail to the “big picture”.

A new Zoning Ordinance that codified Plan recommendations became effective on November 5, 2007. The tenets of Smart Growth, LEED-ND criteria, Transect and Transit-Oriented Design (TOD) concepts, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) standards and the community’s Master Plan vision served as the basis for this code. Community partners, such as The Rapid, have been able to use the document to further their efforts for a better city and receive funding for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route.

The Green Grand Rapids process will be similar to the Plan Grand Rapids and Zone Grand Rapids processes employed to engage citizens in the creation of a new master plan and zoning ordinance. The City is required to update its Master Plan and Parks and Recreation Plan every five years. Instead of passing a short bureaucratic resolution to update the plans, the City of Grand Rapids Planning Department and Parks and Recreation Department view this as an opportunity to initiate a citywide green infrastructure master planning process called Green Grand Rapids that will focus on quality of life and the physical development of community infrastructure as it relates to greening, connectivity, natural systems, the Grand River, recreation and public health.

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