Hey Hey, Detroit!

Documenters put in some overtime last week as a handful of meetings turned into civic marathons. Detroit’s Board of Zoning Appeals met for nearly seven hours and spent more than half of that debating the North End Landing project. (Spoiler alert: They approved everything.) Highland Park City Council met for nearly four hours. At times, it seemed like tensions were boiling over, but a new Documenter noted that they worked through their differences and even apologized to each other by the end — a sign of hope for the new council.

This week, the only meeting we’re attending is Thursday’s Detroit Board of Police Commissioners. Members are expected to vote on the promotions of 60 police officers, and we’ll be watching. Next week, we’ll be back to full steam as Detroit City Council returns from summer recess. 

We’ll also drop in on an agency we are eager to learn more about. Keep reading for more on what we’ve learned so far about the very incognito but powerful Detroit/Wayne County Stadium Authority.

While the sun is shining, come join us outside tomorrow at Robert C. Valade Park. We’ll be there all day meeting our readers, planning new projects with Documenters, enjoying our time together or just co-working in one of Detroit’s beautiful outdoor spaces. We’d love for you to register, but you can also just show up. We hope to see you there!

“Please note that some candidates do have significant number of citizen complaints overall, sustained citizen complaints and discipline histories.”

Board Secretary Victoria Shah, referring to some of the 60 police officers up for promotion at this week’s Detroit Board of Police Commissioners meeting

The Scoop

Looking into the Detroit/Wayne County Stadium Authority

Ever heard of the Detroit/Wayne County Stadium Authority? We hadn’t either until we heard about District Detroit being delayed in breaking ground. We tried to get more information and still have many more questions than answers.

Outlier has exciting news to share! This week we launched our membership program, The Outlier Collective. If you’re seeking a sense of community, civic purpose, and looking to improve the city, we welcome you to join us! Click here to learn more!

You’re invited to Outlier Media’s Coffee Thursday, this Thursday (Aug. 31) at The Gathering Coffee Company! The first 20 guests will receive a free brewed coffee or tea of their choice. Stop by and chat with us from 9:30-10:30 a.m. We hope to see you there!

City News


Last week’s Board of Zoning Appeals meeting lasted seven hours(!) and the board heard two cases. 

After more than four hours of debate and deliberation, board members voted to approve zoning variances for the North End Landing development project

A major concern mentioned by those opposed to the development was a variance that allowed for fewer parking spaces than would usually be required. Neighbors were concerned about a lack of parking overall and free parking in particular.

Some residents were also concerned about neighborhood congestion and changing from a majority homeowner neighborhood. The developer changed plans to include more greenspace, and added six homes for sale, which they hope to bring to market for $150,000

The board approved all the variances, most of them unanimously. 

After a five-minute break, the board heard an appeal by Vanessa Peake, executive director of Urban Development Corp. Her business is nearby so Peake met the board’s definition of an “aggrieved person” and challenged the Building, Safety Engineering, Environment Department (BSEED)’s approval for a marijuana dispensary in District 3’s Farwell neighborhood. Peake argued the dispensary should not be in a residential neighborhood and that the district was already saturated with dispensaries, liquor stores and strip clubs. Ultimately, the board voted 3-3 on the appeal — not enough support to overturn BSEED’s approval. 

8/21/2023 Board of Zoning Appeals
Documented by Carole Hawke and Tiffany Pilson

More City and Regional News

Health, Politics, Transportation, Housing, Policing


8/21/2023 Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network, Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Oversight Policy Board: DWIHN seeks long-term care funding; new member sworn in; board discusses the perception that Detroiters get a disproportionate share of resources.
Documented by Alex Klaus and Paige Rollins


8/21/2023 Highland Park City Council: Public commenters support Mama Shu, founder and CEO of Avalon Village, in a property dispute with an out-of-state investor.
Documented by Heidi Ausgood and Meghan Rutigliano


8/22/2023 Detroit Department of Transportation, Local Advisory Council: DDOT staff provides updates on funding, policies and programs to support improved transportation services for disabled riders; New Freedom Program participants say they would rather have same-day service than service 25 miles outside of Detroit, but some note it’s a hassle to transfer from DDOT to SMART.
Documented by Amelia Benavides-Colón and Sandi Nelson


8/24/2023 Detroit Housing Commission, Board of Commissioners: DHC representatives say they have a plan to increase rent collection and to run project vouchers through a third party.
Documented by Afua Osei-Bonsu and Amy Senese


8/24/2023 Detroit Board of Police Commissioners: Commissioners will vote Aug. 31 on the promotion of 60 officers to ranks of detective, lieutenant and sergeant.
Documented by Pamela Taylor and William Verhoef

Question of the Week

Last week, the Board of Zoning Appeals spent more than four hours deliberating a set of zoning variances for the North End Landing Development. That made Documenters question, what exactly is a zoning variance? 

A zoning variance is an adjustment “from the strict application of the provisions of the zoning ordinance.” For example, North End Landing LLC sought dimensional variances in order to construct multi-family apartment buildings in an R3 low-density residential zone. The development plans are outside some of those residential zone requirements. 

Get Involved

Upcoming training and events

Documenters Work from the Park
Tomorrow! Wednesday, Aug. 30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Robert C. Valade Park
Grab your laptop or notebook, and join us as we work remotely from the great outdoors! Free Wi-Fi and coffee. Stick around for happy hour with our media partners starting at 5 p.m. at Bob’s Barge (cash bar)!

Detroit Documenters Community of Practice 
Tomorrow! Wednesday, Aug. 30, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Robert C. Valade Park 
During our Work from the Park day, Detroit Documenters will gather for a meeting to collaborate on upcoming projects and events. Register for this workshop

Documenters Family & Friends Meetup at Jazz in the Parks 
Friday, Sept. 15, 5-8 p.m., Riverside Park 
A few Documenters thought it would be fun to meet up at Jazz in the Parks, and we thought so too! Grab a blanket or chair, look for the yellow Documenters swag and meet us there. Bring a friend! 

Documenters office hours
Tuesday, 2-3 p.m.
Drop in to ask questions, pitch ideas, discuss assignments or just hang out. You can even get personalized training on topics like live-tweeting or improving your notes. Visit us in the office or join our office hours on Zoom!

Lynelle (she/her) likes working with Documenters because she thinks it’s important for us to share our news and our voices with our neighbors and networks. Her favorite spaces in Detroit are the urban gardens that promote peace, hope, health and healing.

Noah (he/him) believes people benefit their communities when they create civic media and commit acts of journalism. He enjoys being anywhere with live music or tacos.