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SG-W:/ Interesting Pittsfield Twp meeting



Did anyone else attend the Pittsfield Twp charrette opening presentation
last night?

It was very well attended, and Channel 7 was there as well.   They ran a
brief story on the news last night at 11.

The architect, Andres Duany, had a very good presentation, with some
convincing arguments for the New Urbanist style of development, termed
"traditional neighborhood design" by him, and against the type of suburban
developments that we are all used to, called "conventional neighborhood
design."

However, he essentially is coming from the position that the development of
this property is a done deal--and that it would be better to allow his type
of development rather than the other type.  A lot of people in the audience,
based on the questions at the end of the presentation, were unsold on the
premise that this property should be developed at all.  There were some very
good questions about the preservation of true natural open space (as opposed
to the tidbits of preserved areas talked about in his presentation) and
about the impact of such a development on the infrastructure and on the
residents who already live in the township.

His position on some of these tougher questions, in my opinion, was to put
people off, again taking the position that it's "grow my way or grow the
other way."

In my opinion, the developer is being very shrewd by allowing the architect
to sell the benefits of this project and to bear the brunt of the tough
questions while he stands at the back of the room licking his chops at the
amount of money he is going to make on this development.  When will he come
to the front of the room and take some questions?

This fascinating process will continue to take place over the next several
days at the township hall.  In the back of the meeting room, they have set
up a working office where they will be completely finishing the design for
the project over the next few days!  He invited people to stop in at any
time during the day or evening to observe the goings on.  At any time there
will be the latest version of the project design hanging on the wall for
people to look at.

Again, below is the schedule of meetings for the next few days.  I STRONGLY
ENCOURAGE anyone who is curious about the "New Urbanist" philosophy of
design and planning to come to one or more of these meetings or drop in and
look at the latest version of the plan.  This approach and process is like
nothing you've experienced before with development in Michigan.

The idea is that these series of meetings, hearing people's concerns and
ideas, will drive how the project will be designed.  Whether this is indeed
how the project will play out remains to be seen.  Call me skeptical, but I
think it's more of an attempt to sell the development of this property by
the developer through good PR than a true give and take between the
community and the architect/developer.

The schedule:

Thursday
Planning commission/Bd of Trustees 10 am - 12:30 pm
Transportation 2:30 - 4:30 pm
Neighborhood associations/property owners 5:30 - 7 pm

Friday
Schools/government agencies 10 am - 12:30 pm
Builders, developers/economic development 2:30 - 4:30 pm
Community organizations 5:30 - 7 pm

Saturday
Public session 5:30 - 7 pm

Sunday
Public session 5:30 - 7 pm

Tuesday
Final public presentation 7-8:30 pm


Remember, the public is invited to any and all of these meetings, regardless
of the intended audience.  I think the meetings with builders and developers
as well as the property owners could be really interesting.

Jeff Surfus