Can We Blow It Up?

Storage facilities and churches in former retail boxes, every auto-oriented use imaginable, and being last on preferred siting lists for new businesses inspired a first-tier suburban community to radically reconsider its current context.

After using a data-driven approach, economic arguments, community engagement, developer consultation, best practices research, and site test-fits, a new vision emerged. Township planners reduced six zone districts into one mixed-use type, enacted administrative approvals, and worked with MDOT to redesign a regional route that bisects the Plainfield Avenue Corridor.

The planning commission's vote was tied over nonconformities and fear of change, but the township board provided unanimous approval. "We have to do something different because what we are doing today isn't working," said the supervisor.

Transforming first-tier suburbs to safer and more prosperous places for low-income residents by reducing car-dependent development, increasing housing types, introducing transit, and establishing a more walkable environment is no easy task. Speakers address how to tackle long-standing beliefs and zoning practices to create meaningful, effective change.

Learn methods for effective messaging to support change, ensure benefit to marginalized communities abutting the corridor, design a process that demonstrates listening and arrives at implementation, and establish a fair process for the development community that encourages new investment.

Learning Outcomes

  • Blend data and dialogue with discussions about economic sustainability to motivate decision makers to effect change.
  • Develop a community engagement process that builds support for zoning reform, using a multi-pronged approach.
  • Advocate for outcomes that produce a more fair, equitable, and prosperous community.

The NPC Peer Reviewers assigned this presentation a learning level of Intermediate. For more on learning level descriptions visit our General Information Page.