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Rezoning plan comes to attention in Grosse Pointe Park

Julia Roeder ’25
Located on Wayburn Street in Grosse Pointe Park, construction has already begun for parking lots. Resident of Wayburn Street, Kelly Blunden, is concerned with how the Grosse Pointe Park’s City Council has been dealing with the situation. “I wish they (local government) would come out and listen to the residents,” Blunden said. “ They are doing what they want to residents with no thought on how this will impact community members.”

The City of Grosse Pointe Park planning commission is considering a change to the city’s zoning ordinance to rezone residential properties into parking lots behind the city’s commercial district. Community members have expressed their frustration with how the city is dealing with the matter.

Grosse Pointe Park hired Mckenna Associates, a professional planning consulting firm, to review the city’s zoning ordinance. While no parking study was included as part of the engagement of the consultant, McKenna Associates has brought forward this new “transitional parking” district for consideration around the Kercheval and Charlevoix commercial districts. City Council members have expressed concerns related to the process and why the additional parking would be needed, including Grosse Pointe Park City Council member Christine Gallagher.

“I became aware of the plan while watching the planning commission when it was presented by McKenna and the assistant city manager,’’ Gallagher said. ‘‘It feels as though they are rushing something through. Why? I don’t know. Whomever is behind this is rushing this.’’
The rezoning plan says that the owner/landlord of any of the 64 homes surrounding the commercial district could at any time sell the property to be flipped into parking.

Grosse Pointe Park’s Mayor, Michele Hodges, is a voting member of the Planning Commission which will be voting on the proposal. If approved, it will be forwarded onto City Council for final approval. Hodges, who is running for reelection in November, appointed the current members of the Planning Commission.

‘‘Transitional zoning has been recommended by the consultant for consideration and evaluation as part of the first draft, with a more complete discussion slated for later this month (October),’’ Hodges said. “I would not be in favor of anything that destroys the character of our community, or that negatively impacts the tax base.”

The demolition of homes for parking lots, however, has already started. Residents living near the commercial district, informally known as the “Cabbage Patch”, have displayed extreme concern regarding how the city has handled this. Kelly Blunden has two children in Grosse Pointe Schools and is a resident of the Cabbage Patch.

“I know change happens, change doesn’t always feel good, and it’s not easy but change does not have to be so one sided,’’ Blunden said. “I wish our city council, our mayor and developers would come out and talk to those who live around here, and find out what we want, it is my community who are directly impacted, not houses on Bedford (a street a few blocks away) but houses who are out here in the (Cabbage) Patch.’’

Should the transitional zoning of residential to parking move forward, Grosse Pointe Park will have approximately 10.1 acres of parking to accommodate businesses, while neighboring community Grosse Pointe Farms only has five acres for double the amount of commercial businesses. These statistics leave community members and opposing council members wondering what the push is for more parking lots. City Councilmember, Vikas Relan, has been on City Council since 2019 and his term ends in November.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think our city acts in transparency, I think we chase transparency,” Relan said. “If projects are supposed to be helping residents, then there should be more communication around them.The Cabbage Patch has been heard but is being ignored. The last time the city bulldozed homes for parking, a lot of residents came and shared their anger.”

As the planning commission continues to meet and further discuss rezoning, residents are still left with unanswered questions.

“Taking away homes, homes are where friends live, where people raise families, where young couples grow into a bigger house, and fall in love with Grosse Pointe Park,” Relan said. “That all happens in the Cabbage Patch. It’s dumb, no other city in America is taking homes down for parking, that should tell us something.”

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About the Contributor
Julia Roeder ’25, Supervising Web Editor
Whether it’s The Rolling Stone, Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers, or Tyler the Creator, Julia Roeder ’25 is guaranteed to have seen them in concert. All eyes envy her as she walks into the journalism classroom wearing merchandise she bought from the concert the night before. When she’s not listening to her favorite artists, she spends most of her time jamming out on her own guitar, being your average aspiring popstar. Besides her still-amounting popstar career, Roeder is also the Supervising Web Editor of The Tower. This is Roeder’s second year on staff and she is looking forward to continuing her role and being involved in the community and school. “I love Tower because you’re informing the community of what’s going on and also getting to know people on staff,” Roeder said.

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