The City of Marquette’s Planning Commission met with the Marquette City Commission Tuesday night at the city’s service center to go over what the Planning Commission has been up to, and, by definition… what they’re planning. Though it’s probably not the most exciting two hour meeting you could imagine, it might be the most consequential.
Among many other things, the Planning Commission is charged with developing and updating the city’s Master Plan… a task that’s currently underway. In addition to that, the appointed board is also responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on various projects and developments related to zoning, land use, and adherence to city codes.
Basically, it’s all in the name… planning. No, it’s not exciting, but it’s where the hard work is done to make sure our community looks like what we want it to look like. Or, at least what somebody wants it to look like.
Listening to Commission Chairperson Joy Cardillo and City Planner Dave Stensaas explain the difference between measuring the height of a garage roof from the peak of the extended gable rather than from the halfway point to the apex of the first floor in order to meet the requirements of the city’s building code… well, that’s the edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff the planners deal with.
Here’s the rub. If those guys get details like that wrong, it can have negative implications that are hard to reverse.
Much of the work of the Planning Commission and the city’s Planning Department is mundane, detail oriented, and mind-numbingly bureaucratic. But, all of it is critical to the process of planning the future direction of this city.
As you might imagine, with a governmental meeting of this type, there was a fair share of material on the agenda that won’t get much attention, regardless of its eventual manifestation.
There were, however, a few items that the community should be aware of, particularly now… in the planning period. Although the stated goal of the commission isn’t necessarily to avoid future complaints, that’s always an added benefit. Before residents angrily ask… “How are they allowed to do that,” whenever a development doesn’t suit their taste, appropriate oversight by a competent and attentive planning department can ward off such discontent.
The Planning Commission presentation focused on four major areas of attention: Climate Action, Housing, Mobility, and the overhaul of the community Master Plan.
Of those topics, a couple specific projects stood out. Under the “Mobility” heading, one that could have considerable impact is the idea of a 30-minute transit route going through some of our more densely populated neighborhoods and business districts.
According to City Planner Dave Stensaas, this addition to our public transit system would have some real value. “Improved transit service is not only good for helping people travel to some of our most-visited destinations, but it also can help people lower their overall cost of living. It was heartening to hear the City Commission’s unanimous support for it.”
The proposed route would stop at the hospital, NMU, the city-county complex on Baraga Avenue, and traverse the North Third Street corridor. It would be on a 30-minute loop, so riders could count on seeing their ride when and where they expect it.
Marq-Tran would need to be included in this, and that will present some challenges for them as well. Marq-Tran board member Taylor Klipp spoke at the meeting and echoed the woes of many business and governmental entities… the lack of employees. Hopefully the time comes when that is no longer a deal-breaker for many of the things we want to get done.
Anyway… the 30-minute route is something to look forward to. A reliable public transit system is important to any modern city, and becomes even more so as the cost of personal transportation continues to rise.
Another critical element on the commission’s agenda is affordable and attainable housing. As noted during the meeting, the city can only do so much. They can’t dictate prices and priorities, but they can adjust zoning regulations to respond to the need for more housing, which in turn could lead to more affordable housing.
There’s also a city Climate Action Plan that is somewhat of a work in progress, but at least it’s on the radar. If we consider Marquette to be a progressive representation of what a 21st century community should look like, forward-thinking about climate and the environment needs to be a part of the discussion.
And then there’s the Master Plan. It’s the one document that every new idea must answer to, drafted with foresight that’s proactive, in order to avoid reactive.
All this stuff is open for citizen review. Meeting schedules are published on the city’s website and announced in various media. The city commission, as well as all the different advisory boards and committees operate as public entities, and with that, a transparency that is there for the asking. You can find just about anything city-related at marquettemi.gov.
An interesting comment from Commissioner Jenn Hill near the end of the meeting caught my attention. She suggested that too many city meetings take on an “adversarial” tone and that the “visioning” process works better when it’s more open and inclusive. Like other city leaders at the meeting, she wants to encourage constructive citizen input.
When asked for further comment, she explained… “There’s a story in our heads, “Fight City Hall!” But what if we – all of us who live here together – are asked to think about the future together? That’s what the City Commission, Planning Commission and City staff are asking through the Master Plan process. What’s the vision for the future?”
There will be more opportunities for citizen input on the various plans currently on the table. If you’ve got some ideas… pull up a chair.
Following in the footsteps of traditional Marquette festivals that celebrate things like beers or blues, The Fire Station Cannabis Co. has announced the Upper Peninsula’s first celebration of legal weed… Camp Cannabis, this October, at Marquette’s Tourist Park.
According to The Fire Station’s Stosh Wasik, Camp Cannabis will be similar to the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival in that “we’ve rented out the entire park for the event.” There will also be arts and culture activities, plus a full slate of entertainment, with production handled by the Double Trouble team.
Oh… and there will be marijuana.
Wasik says they’ll be releasing an official entertainment lineup in the coming weeks and that they expect a large crowd with camping sites going quickly. Day passes will also be available. For more information visit 906fire.com.