GRAND RAPIDS — Blueprint II planning charettes will get underway this year.
Andy Bowman, Grand Valley Metro Council Blueprint director, said sessions would be held in each of the planning document’s six sub-regions that cover all of Kent County and stretch into portions of eastern Ottawa County.
Bowman said he expected that local decision-makers, planning professionals, business and neighborhood representatives, economic development groups and ordinary citizens would participate in the planning meetings. The idea is to map out what each sub-region looks like and then compare each diagram to a regional plan.
Right now, eight regional plans have been brought into the Blueprint’s second phase. But Bowman favors one from the Northwest.
“We’re trying to take a design process and work it into a regional plan that models Portland, Oregon,” he said. “That’s the holy grail for the Metro Council.”
Using a design process means that a plan would be in place before a development starts. For instance, Bowman said that transit centers would be planned and located before work on a light-rail system would begin.
Bowman expects that the rigorous planning process will produce eight results. Just a few of those outcomes are less competition for land use, a better matching of uses with facilities, and a reduction in the duplication of services for planners. The ultimate objective, of course, is to create a more livable area in which each sub-region can sustain itself through mixed-use developments.
Bowman defined Blueprint II as making regional planning work locally and local planning work regionally.
“We’re trying to pull together everyone’s planning principles and goals,” he said.
Blueprint II has a three-year lifespan, and Bowman felt the work could be done within that time constraint. He said what the Metro Council was trying to accomplish wasn’t nearly as large a task as what the West Michigan Strategic Alliance (WMSA) was attempting to do. Bowman said the Blueprint was more of a local plan, while the Alliance agenda needs cooperation from nearly 100 jurisdictions.
“The model of WMSA will not be as effective as Blueprint,” said Bowman.
For more on Blueprint and Blueprint II, go to www.gvmc.org.