“We’re about 190,000 housing units short in our state right now and our housing is expensive. Over the last decade, our cost of single-family homes has gone up about 84% while incomes have only gone up about 25% during the same time period,” said Amy Hovey, with the Michigan Housing Authority (July 2023).
As planners, we are all too familiar with searching for “just the right” residential balance in our communities. Some communities can’t get enough single family or multiple family residences, while others have put up the “No Vacancy” sign for any type of residential development. Many communities are searching for infill development, while others are having a difficult time finding construction that fits in or compliments existing architectural styles and/or density. It’s not enough to want good neighborhoods; we have to empower our communities to look at the “Big Picture” while still drilling down on those two elusive words, “good planning.”
There are two flaws in the current system that we see over and over again. They are:
How do we fix this? In the City of Holland, they took the following actions:
Holland Charter Township employed several of its own ideas to address housing, namely:
The City of Walker has a chart of all available land planned for residential in excess of 10 acres and what the permitted dwelling units per acre are.
Several approaches that span a wide range of actions from Master Plan updates to a graphic that can be used by developers. What do they all have in common? They spell out what is permitted and under what circumstances – period. Public input is imperative while drafting the standards and must include participation from stakeholders such as public officials, residents, fire and police departments and potential (or past) developers/builders. If this is done carefully, priorities can then be merged with solid planning practices and the resulting product leaves little room for opposition from residents or litigation.
A few last words…
That’s what we’re talking about at McKenna this week. Let us know what you’re talking about in your community. For more great ideas about community planning, design, and building services, visit mcka.com or call us at (248)596-0920. Like us on Facebook or connect with us on LinkedIn to learn more about how we’re elevating communities across the region.