Kentwood seeks public input on master plan


(As seen on WZZM TV 13) The city of Kentwood is updating its master plan and is seeking public input on proposed changes through “Plan Kentwood,” a community engagement series.

The master plan is a long-term vision for growth, land use, development and open space conservation. The city’s master plan consists of goals, policies and recommended actions to guide land use decision-making for Kentwood planning commissioners and city commissioners during the next 20 years. The plan is reviewed at least every five years but is modified and updated as deemed necessary by the city commission. The most recent update was completed in 2012.

“The master plan is not a law or ordinance but rather a guide for decisions to support how growth and conservation will take place in the city,” Kentwood Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer said. “We welcome all community members to be a part of the conversation.”

Hosted at City Hall, the first event focused on a 480-acre area referred to as Section 34, which is located between 52nd and 60th streets, the Princeton Estates Plat and Wing Avenue.

Schweitzer said the area represents one of the two remaining large tracts of land in the city for development. While it generally is developable, the reason it hasn’t been developed is because part of the property is still leased out for farming purposes.

“With that much acreage that’s undeveloped, we wanted to bring ourselves up to date, bring the planning commission up to date, as well,” Schweitzer said.

The second opportunity for public input, dubbed “Ice Pops and Planning,” will be offered from 5-7 p.m. July 17 at Northeast Park. Discussions will surround Section 13, which consists of 263 acres of open land between 28th and 36th streets, Patterson Avenue and East Paris Avenue. Residents will have the opportunity to help guide the future uses for the site.

Kentwood Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder said this is another case where there is a family-owned farm; it has been undeveloped.

“It’s a significant piece of land, but again, we have not received a plan for it as of yet,” Golder said.

Staff will be inside Woodland Mall at a table during National Night Out festivities from 3-5 p.m. Aug. 6 to gather input on the future planning of the 28th Street and 29th Street commercial corridor. 

The corridor already consists of a wide range of development — from high-end boutiques, major regional malls and local retailers, to many national franchises. Public input gathered will focus on how to improve its effectiveness as a transportation corridor and as a business and employment center.

“With the reinvestment in Woodland Mall and the removal of the former Sears building to make room for more high-end retailers — even along a thriving area — I think the focus there is to keep it current and accessible and attractive for people to continue to frequent that,” Schweitzer said.

The final event, “Designing Division,” will be hosted at Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille from 4-6 p.m. Sept. 12. Community members are encouraged to join for an evening of ice cream and discussions on the future of the Division Avenue corridor with the city of Kentwood, the city of Wyoming and the Division Avenue Business Association. 

Division Avenue is a key gateway corridor to both the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming, and Golder said planning will require cooperation between the two communities.

She said the opportunities for Division Avenue represent more redevelopment of existing retail space as some smaller commercial centers are in decline.

“There are more opportunities for residential use,” Golder said. “We may try to rejuvenate Division Avenue to support commercial use that is more supportive of the neighborhood.”

The objective of the master plan’s update process is to plan for new population growth and redevelopment while protecting key environmental features, creating sustainable economic opportunities and providing public services.

Community engagement opportunities schedule

  • Ice Pops and Planning: 5-7 p.m. July 17 at Northeast Park, 1900 Middleground Drive SE

  • City Planning on the Mall: 3-5 p.m. Aug. 6 at Woodland Mall, 3195 28th St. SE

  • Designing Division: 4-6 p.m. Sept. 12 at Brann’s Steakhouse parking lot, 4157 S. Division Ave.

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