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What's Your Vision for Farmington?

City officials plan to ask residents, business owners and others to help create the Farmington of the future.

Farmington city officials will consider a proposal Dec. 17 that would draw residents, business owners and even people from neighboring communities into developing a city vision plan. 

At a study session Monday, city manager Vince Pastue said the $29,500 proposal submitted by planning consultant OHM Advisors for the 6-month project exceeds the $25,000 budgeted. He added that funds are available to cover the additional cost. 

"The last time we had a vision program was in 1998, and that set the stage for the changes in the downtown area," Pastue said. 

"We're big believers of this," said James Houk, OHM vice president of planning, design and development. "A lot has changed over the last five years or more in southeast Michigan." 

Houk said the visioning process will help define what is special about Farmington and what people like about the community, then allows the community to build on that and create "almost a brand". With a vision plan in place, the city can identify missing components and make changes that fit with the vision. 

"It allows you to be able to make strategic decisions on capital projects, public-private partnerships," Houk said. "It's a road map that will lead to better decisions."

In order to keep costs down, Houk said, consultants would make use of any tools that already exist, like studies completed as part of the city and Farmington Downtown Development Authority (DDA) branding processes about five years ago. On-line surveys can help verify whether the data is still valid, he added. 

For council member JoAnne McShane, inclusiveness is a priority, ensuring seniors, people who are handicapped and those who don't use the Internet are included. Council member Kristin Kuiken pointed out that most younger people don't have a home phone, so doing phone surveys would likely miss many in that generation. 

The visioning process would begin with a 15-20 member task force of stakeholders who will help implement the plan. It includes opportunities for public input in "idea gathering" meetings and a community-wide open house. Council member Greg Cowley asked that people in Farmington Hills be included, because those residents frequent Farmington businesses. 

"I'm not so much worried about the residential folks, they're happy," Cowley said. "But if you talk to the business people, they're not."

Charlie Fleetham of Farmington Hills-based Projection Innovations, which will co-lead the community input sessions, said the process will ensure that even people who are shy will get a chance to share their thoughts and prevents "special interest" groups from taking over the discussion.

"Is there any type of accountability or follow up to make sure the vision doesn't just sit on the shelf?" council member Kristin Kuiken asked. 

Hauk said the final product will include an accountability plan with "steps you need to do as a community to move this along." He said LSL Planning consultants is part of the team to help with any recommended changes to the city's master plan or code of ordinances. 

Joni Hubred-Golden December 04, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Matthew, I've uploaded the council packet that includes the draft plan. Thanks for the suggestion!
Dwayne December 04, 2012 at 06:38 PM
A lot of good ideas here. In general, I'd like to see Farmington become more pedestrian-friendly. Too often it feels dangerous crossing Farmington Rd or Grand River. The Grand River streetscape project should have addressed this better; it looks like this is noted in the plans for the Farmington Rd streetscape. And, as mentioned by everyone, there need to be places to go ... unique, locally-owned businesses: restaurants, art gallery, antique shop, clothes, etc., to fill up the empty storefronts. It would also be great to do something about providing easier access to connect downtown with Shiawasee Park.
Michael Ritenour December 04, 2012 at 07:52 PM
I agree, many excellent suggestions. Despite good progress, I believe parking and visibility of parking remain a major problem. The Grand River streetscape helped considerably after the loss of parking to Riley Park/Sundquist Pavilion (both of which I support) as did paving the alley and lot behind the Civic and shops on the north side of Grand River, but unless a visitor is familiar with the area, he/she is not likely to be drawn to the large lot south of T.J. Maxx or the lot behind Page's. The Grove Street Streetscape will help when completed, but until then we need more visible "Parking" signage, along with clearly demarcated pedestrian pathways leading to/from those lots, similar to the entrance to the alleyway parking lot.
Roberta Berndt December 05, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Holland Michigan does the same thing on Thursdays. There are street performers every block or so....all kinds... musicians, magicians, singers, dancers, mimes, comedians.
Bob Rossi December 06, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Once again Vince Pastue finds a way to waste taxpayer dollars. This money would have been best spent on a public safety dispatcher. Once again Greg Cowley has made it very clear that it isn't the residents of Farmington the he is looking out for but the buisness owners that are looking for yet another handout.

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