PLAINFIELD TWP. — The Plainfield Charter Township Planning Commission on Tuesday voted in favor of the Reimagine Plainfield Plan, which recommends ways to build vibrant places, encourage green space, and make Plainfield Avenue north of I-96 more of a destination.
The plan focuses on Plainfield Avenue from Four Mile Road to the Grand River, which currently has many chain restaurants, parking lots and auto-oriented businesses that are not flexible for future development. The township voted in July to put a moratorium on most developments along the corridor with the intention of finalizing the Reimagine Plainfield Plan by the time the moratorium expires on July 24, 2021.
The process of reimagining the corridor started in June 2019 when the Plainfield Township Board of Trustees established the Plainfield Corridor Redevelopment Advisory Committee. The committee met several times, conducted community surveys and retained Progressive AE Inc. to put together a visioning document for the initiative.
Key recommendations of the plan include creating and preserving green space, establishing three new town centers for community activity along the corridor, and encouraging mixed-use development that includes housing, retail and buildings that are adaptable to a range of uses.
The plan also includes recommendations to create a more walkable community by slowing the speed of motorists with self-enforcing designs along Plainfield Avenue. This could include constructing taller buildings with a landscape buffer, removing curb cuts, and adding landscape medians and planting street trees.
“In general I think this will be a nice tool for us,” said Plainfield Township Senior Planner Peter Elam. “It will take some time and that’s projected in the plan, but over time we’ll put the building blocks together and make it a nice sustainable project for the township.”
The goal is for pieces of the plan to “feed on itself” and grow, said Suzanne Schulz, Progressive AE’s urban planning practice leader.
“You start creating places then people want to be there, then more people attract retailers or office use, then the office use creates day time traffic, which encourages more outdoor seating,” Schulz said.
Based on feedback from local developers, there is some opportunity for redeveloping underutilized strip malls along Plainfield Avenue into other uses, Schulz said. In the interim, temporary uses in the strip malls might be challenging, but incremental changes could be done like bringing in food trucks and expanding outdoor seating.
“There are a range of opportunities that will hopefully spur some imagination,” Schulz said.
The Plainfield Township Board of Trustees will conduct a public hearing for the Reimagine Plainfield Plan at its May 10 meeting, and the plan is expected to be formally adopted on May 24.
“The challenge that we, the planning commission, (have) is to sustain this plan and to keep it going and moving it forward,” said Planning Commissioner Jim Koslosky. “We’ve got to keep pushing it forward and recognize there are going to be baby steps to full implementation.”
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