Grand Rapids Planning Commission sets deadline for Belknap ASP, new consultants move plan forward

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

On May 14, Grand Rapids planning commissioners tabled until September two requests that would have opened the door for developers to pursue the possible construction of five multi-family units in the Belknap Lookout neighborhood.

Concept Design Group submitted the two requests: an exception to a requirement for a completed Area Specific Plan (ASP) before developer Artesian Group moves ahead with a rezoning request, and another request for an exception to the minimum lot size of five acres.

The proposed new units would replace one single-family and four multi-family homes at 522, 536, 617, 723 and 731 Livingston.

Artesian Group and a steering committee began the ASP process in early 2008. Stephen Fry, owner of Concept Design Group, a consultant during six months of the visioning process, said the ASP is far enough along to show that the multi-family units are feasible.

"The project's consistent with the Master Plan and can move forward without an ASP," Fry told commissioners, referencing six planning charrettes that drew hundreds of neighbors.

Andy Guy, spokesperson for the steering committee and former editor of Rapid Growth, says the aim now is to complete the ASP by the September deadline.

"We're going to spend the summer pumping the neighborhood for all its ideas," Guy says. "There's a lot of mutual interest to indentify to get a plan that the neighborhood's going to support."

The steering committee recently hired Nederveld and Lott3Metz as consultants to review the information already gathered and complete the ASP.

"We really anticipate being able to use a lot of that information," says Mark Miller, a Nederveld architect and senior planner. "We expect to be able to use or to at least reevaluate it to make sure it's still what the neighborhood's goals are."

Some $23,000 pledged by various community organizations and individuals, including $5,000 pledged previously by the Grand Rapids Planning Department, will fund the planning process through the summer.

Source: Stephen Fry, Concept Design Group; Andy Guy, Neighbors of Belknap Lookout Steering Committee; Mark Miller, Nederveld

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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