Pittsfield Township has a draft of their newly overhauled master plan posted on the web. As I live just north of the border between Ann Arbor and the township, their planning and zoning has a big impact on me, so I decided to check it out. I browsed through it fairly quickly, but it’s a surprisingly enlightened document.
Part of the context for the revision is the township’s rapid (for Michigan) population growth:
(T)here was a tremendous increase when the population more than doubled between 1980 and 2000 going from 12,986 to 30,167.
Between 2000 and 2010 Pittsfield Township’s population grew to 34,663.
Interestingly, they used personas, which was not a practice I realized was common outside of human-computer interaction.
The proposal for future density.
Slide 33: They want to dramatically boost the amount of mixed use development along Carpenter as far south as Ellsworth, and also at Ann Arbor-Saline & Lohr; and they want to zone State south of the airport as a business district.
The proposed adjustments to the existing business districts are interesting:
It is intended that as these areas evolve, they will become more pedestrian-friendly, have access to transit, and linkages within its open space areas. These areas are intended to evolve with a mixture of uses designed at the human scale along the major road frontages in order to accommodate pedestrians and the use of transit. Along interior roadways and drives, buildings will be designed with open spaces and larger setback areas. Much of this area is currently designed to accommodate vehicles and will therefore need to retrofit with pedestrian facilities…
Parking should be located in parking garages or in the side or rear yards.
Then there are the proposed “core nodes”:
Six areas of the Township were identified as prime locations for development or redevelopment as dense, mixed-use development nodes. These areas were selected through the community survey we conducted; respondents were asked to pick from a list of areas within the Township that might be good candidates for denser development. These areas are ideal because they are areas along existing and proposed transportation routes, areas with existing infrastructure, and areas that may provide new amenities for existing developments or benefit from new amenities. Respondents identified the following six locations as nodes for dense and mixed-use development: Washtenaw Avenue, the intersection of Carpenter & Packard Roads, Platt & Michigan Avenue to US-23, the intersection of State & Textile Roads, the intersection of State Street & Ellsworth Road, and the Ann-Arbor-Saline Road area.
The township’s proposed “core node” areas.
An overwhelming majority of respondents, over 70%, expressed a desire to see AATA services expanded within Pittsfield. Interestingly, there was not much interest in increasing the frequency of existing services.
The township’s transit plan
Establishing an identity of its own, distinct from Ann Arbor, seems to be a big concern for the planners:
“When asked where you live, only 20.6% of residents say Pittsfield, while 51% say Ann Arbor.”
The document itself — nearly 300 pages — is very nicely designed with plenty of eye candy, and in general seems to reflect a lot of current best practices in planning. If you’re planning-minded or just happen, like me, to live near or even in Pittsfield, take a look. I’m eager to hear other people’s thoughts.