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Farmington, Hills Planning Commissioners Discuss Grand River Ideas Thursday

The agenda includes discussion of a vision being drafted by the Corridor Improvement Authorities for both cities.

Farmington Planning Commissioners got a look Monday at a vision for the Grand River corridor in Farmington and Farmington Hills that includes redevelopment, a connected system of bike and walking paths, and high quality design elements. 

Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said representatives from both cities are working on a plan that covers three miles of the state-controlled road, from Mayfield in Farmington to Eight Mile Road in Farmington Hills. He said the strategy includes eight development principles:

  • Community image and character - using high quality design elements to create an overall theme
  • Mobility - creating a safe, enjoyable environment for walking, biking, traveling by car or mass transit
  • Redevelopment - supporting plans that bring the corridor together and looking at public improvements when redevelopment is proposed
  • Neighborhoods and housing - encouraging a variety of housing options that include single family, multi-family and redeveloped multi-family
  • Natural environment - growth and redevelopment of the river corridor that runs parallel to, and crosses, Grand River
  • Public space - creating open spaces where people can gather
  • Connections with surrounding areas - linking neighborhoods, businesses and public spaces
  • Sustainability - a focus on "green" development and environmental features like rain gardens, pervious pavement and sustainable buildings

Christiansen said an overlay district will be proposed for inclusion in the master plans for both cities, and a tax increment financing (TIF) district will be established later this year to capture any increase in property tax revenues when properties are improved or redeveloped, to help implement the vision. 

Commissioner Jill Babcock asked how consistency would be maintained if more development – and more TIF capture – happened in the Farmington Hills portion of the district. Christiansen said the cities will pursue other revenue sources, like grants and bonding, to make improvements. 

In answer to commissioner Davis Gronbach's question about whether the Michigan Department of Transportation had been consulted, Christiansen said they and all utility service providers will be brought into discussions. 

CIA board members have discussed the possibility of the two cities gaining control of Grand River, Christiansen said. 

"The goal for the future is to create a functional streetscape," he said, "and to encourage greater use of the corridor." 

The joint Planning Commission meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, at Farmington Hills city hall. For more information about the Corridor Improvement Authority, visit fhgov.com/GrandRiver

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