The Walled Lake City Council has voted to approve the first reading of a proposed rezoning of land along East West Maple, from industrial to commercial, as a stepping stone to similarly rezoning other parcels in the area to streamline the process for developers who have expressed interest in setting up shop there.
“Right now, developers must go through a lengthy process to rezone parcels and it’s cost-intensive,” said Department of Public Works Director Loyd Cureton. “This will shorten the process. Time is money for these developers.”
The city’s Planning Commission had forwarded to the council its recommendation that the vacant property located at 1857 E. West Maple, at the corner of Decker Road, should be rezoned to commercial land use.
The city’s zoning ordinance must be amended to reflect the change.
According to Cureton, interest in the property brought the issue to the forefront so the developer can move ahead without delay.
“The interest from potential developers to possibly use the site for a medical facility expedited council’s decision,” Cureton said.
The next step is to rezone the entire quadrant in the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) jurisdiction from the corner of Decker to the city limits, including 12 properties east of Decker and another three west of Decker, according to McKenna Associates planner John Jackson. Only one property, a self-storage site in the eastern sector, would remain zoned for industrial land use.
“We plan to change all the I-1 properties to C-2, but that will require another zoning ordinance to be taken up at the next council meeting,” said City Clerk Cathy Buck.
Cureton said that rezoning the area to commercial is advantageous to the city, given that the business climate has evolved over time from industrial to commercial.
“Now the demand has moved toward a strong commercial area,” he said. “It behooves the city to change the area to commercial to be as marketable as possible. Besides, most are being used for commercial enterprise anyhow.”
Moreover, the city’s master plan incorporates such changes to underscore the significance of the gateway area.
“We anticipate in the long and short term, people will be looking for properties to purchase as commercial, especially for medical suites and other commercial entities,” Cureton said. “Currently the zoning doesn’t coincide with the gateway district in the area and commercial is more suitable and more identifiable with those businesses there currently.”
Cureton added that as required by law, the city must notify the owners of properties within 300 feet of each property being rezoned in case they want to express any concerns.
A second reading of the initial ordinance amendment will be considered at the next council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15, as well as a first reading of a separate zoning ordinance amendment for the other 15 properties.