Some Douglas Citizens Concerned About Unannounced Change To Proposed Future Land Use Map
Concerned about possible development and high density of apartments and condos, neighbors of the 16-acre public property known as the former Miro Golf Course, told Douglas City Council on Monday night they strongly opposed the city’s proposed Future Land Use Map.
The map serves as a guide for the future—development and/or preservation of land in the city —and it is part of the Master Plan, the umbrella document that addresses future land use in a more general and broad fashion.
“I ask you not to approve the currently proposed Master Plan,” Douglas resident Doug Hohlbein told council during the public comments section of the meeting.
He was joined by residents Dana Burd and Erik Nor, all part of the group Friends of Wiley Road Park, in saying the city’s Future Land Use Map contained a major change that appeared suddenly and with little oversight, explanation or notice to the public.
The map now shows the 16 acres as “compact residential,” not as it was before, “parks and recreation.”
While some council members conceded they needed to better understand the issue to respond to concerns, city staff says there are some misunderstandings of the matter that require clarification.
First, they say, “parks and rec” while clearly addressed in the Parks and Recreation Plan relative to the 16-acre Miro property, was never part of the Master Plan.
Second, parks and rec is not a zoning designation; even so, parks and rec is a use and can be a use within any zoning district. As such, open space and parks are definitely not eliminated as an option in any future plans at the old Miro property, they say.
Finally, city staff says the current Master Plan is a reflection of what they have been hearing at public meetings regarding the Master Plan for the last two years, primarily that the public wants “affordable housing.”
“The Future Land Use Map doesn’t exclude parks and rec, but the overwhelming need we heard from the public was for housing. Nevertheless, our goal is also to create a walkable and livable community and we can’t do that without open spaces for parks,” said Douglas City Planner Lisa Imus.
“Compact residential,” which is part of the currently proposed Future Land Use, entails eight units per acre, a density that stays relative to surrounding area, noted Imus.
The city purchased the old Miro land, located off of Wiley Street (6825 130th Ave.), in 2013 for $196,000 from Saugatuck Township. Among other possible future uses, the city was eyeing the land as part of a proposed expansion of the Department of Public Works (DPW) facilities, with one idea of knocking down some DPW structures at Wade’s Bayou as to make more public space available there. That idea has gone by the wayside for now.
A Douglas Planning Commission public hearing to consider recommendation of adoption to the city council of the newly updated Master Plan is scheduled for Wednesday, September 14 at 7 p.m. at Douglas City Hall.
The adoption of the Master Plan, if approved, will be followed by adoption of the Future Land Use, and finally followed by adoption of zoning.