A handful of public meetings in and around Detroit turned into civic marathons last week. Highland Park City Council met for nearly four hours and Detroit’s Board of Zoning Appeals met for nearly seven hours. They spent more than half of that debating the North End Landing project. (Spoiler alert: They approved everything.)
Meanwhile, the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network discussed seeking long-term funding (not that they’re broke by any stretch) and the Detroit Housing Commission board has a plan to increase rent collection. We’re keeping an extra-close eye on the agency — the largest provider of affordable housing in the city — after reporting on its failed inspections, high vacancies, staff burnout and other issues.
For the rest of your weekly public meetings digest, read on.
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
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