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GRDadof3

Can we talk Sprawl for a minute?

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I have been reading with utter frustration articles about the two new lifestyle centers being planned for the East Beltline NE area, and have had people knock on my door to sign petitions against the projects because I live on the Northeast side. The people against these developments think that adding these projects will add to sprawl, but I disagree.

Here is my take:

The Grand Rapids "urbanized area" (or continuous developed area) already stretches well beyond 3 Mile and East Beltline. I would almost put it at 10 or 11 Mile in Rockford, and then it generally gets pretty rural (and no water or sewer service). I say let them keep developing the East Beltine to increase density, and the plans also include residential units as well. Opponents think the developments there are too dense and should be smaller strip mall types.

I would say the urbanized area of GR goes from 11 Mile in Rockford on the Northeast side, Buttrick on the Eastside, about Caledonia (92nd) on the Southest, 84th on the South, Canal on the Southwest, Allendale (68th Ave?) on the West, and maybe 6 Mile and Alpine on the Northwest. I think dense development should be encouraged (with strict contols in place) within these boundaries, instead of blocking dense developments in these areas so that the developers leapfrog futher out, and stretch the infrastructure further out where it has fewer users/sq mi.

Does anyone else agree, disagree? Can we discuss? Without bashing suburbanites, but your thoughts about develpment/density/issues.

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Couple of thoughts....first "lifestyle center" is turning into a euphamism for "Strip Mall". Basically your bland, off-the-self crappy suburban strip center. If its mixed use and relatively dense, then I suppose thats a good thing.

Will it "add to sprawl"? I would think it depends on how you define sprawl. I define it as low-density single-use developments smeared all across the country with no definite center or "downtown". So it may or may not...I dont know enough about it.

If these folks are really against the perpetuation of sprawl, then they should get involved in their local government and steer the master plans and zoning ordinances to a form that discourages that kind of crap to be built. The real problem is that most zoning ordinances only allow sprawl and nothing else. If you want to build a "main street" then there is usually much more procedural rigamorole through which one must go

Good topic grdad, I could go on for hours on the subject :P

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I say let them keep developing the East Beltine to increase density, and the plans also include residential units as well.

My problem with E Beltline development is that it is designed for cars and not designed on a human scale.

Same with the lifestyle centers; you may walk when you get there but the sites are almost always designed or located in areas where you must drive to them.

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GR Township actually had to re-write their zoning ordinance to allow the lifestyle concept because it was too dense and included residential elements. They also recently revamped their Master Plan a while back to allow a good mix of office/retail/residential, etc., that tends to reduce congestion because uses are heavy at different times. I know the Rapid runs to the Meijer in that area, so I would assume they can expand the route to include these two, until we get a large scale mass transit system. There are many zoning ordinances around Kent County that actually encourage sprawl, and people don't even realize it.

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The East Beltline corridor has a master plan in place. Put together by Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Township and Plainfield Township it was developed to control out of control development. Developers, however, have learned to maneuver their way around the ordnances that promote mixed use high density pedestrian friendly development.

The plan for Celebration Village when proposed was suppose to be an example on the Beltline of the

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The East Beltline corridor has a master plan in place.  Put together by Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Township and Plainfield Township it was developed to control out of control development.  Developers, however, have learned to maneuver their way around the ordnances that promote mixed use high density pedestrian friendly development. 

The plan for Celebration Village when proposed was suppose to be an example on the Beltline of the

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I don't have a problem with expansion of business, restaurants or lifestyle centers, even on the East Beltline where traffic is moderate already, as long as good planning is involved.

You can see what happens with poor planning. Celebration Village was originally to be set back further away from the Beltline with more trees to keep it from being too visible from the street. Now the only thing blocking the movie theater is the three story office building jammed into the pad site out front. Parking has become a real problem and I think some type of garage needs to be added. In addition, many of the streets don't connect and don't make sense. IHOP is not connected to the theater lot, and neither is Noodles.

I don't mind have these businesses open, but some consideration for the layout needs to be made.

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Celebration Village was originally to be set back further away from the Beltline with more trees to keep it from being too visible from the street.

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If it is that much of a distraction, then maybe it some of these developments shouldn't look so cartoon-ish :blink:

It is quite perplexing. E. Beltline isn't walkable, so businesses have to either turn their backs on the road in little pods full of parking lots, or they have to be set 300' back from Beltline. Building anything "pedestrian friendly" isn't really possible, since all of the developments are in their own little islands, so you can't walk anywhere outside of a particular island. You have to drive, which necessitates all those parking lots, making the area less and less walkable.

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If that lifestyle center does happen (The one directly across from Celebration) I'd like to see another bridge similar to the Calvin College overpass.

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If it is that much of a distraction, then maybe it some of these developments shouldn't look so cartoon-ish  :blink:

It is quite perplexing.  E. Beltline isn't walkable, so businesses have to either turn their backs on the road in little pods full of parking lots, or they have to be set 300' back from Beltline.  Building anything "pedestrian friendly" isn't really possible, since all of the developments are in their own little islands, so you can't walk anywhere outside of a particular island.  You have to drive, which necessitates all that parking lots, making the area less and less walkable.

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One of the problems was that Celebration Village was built in pieces, and the developer kept coming back for more changes. The building that Integrated Architecture did is just horrible. It looks like a cell block from the "street" that goes in off of Knapp. There is also not a lot of residential (especially high-density residential) near the Beltline, so there is no-one to walk there. The thing that gets me is that the Master Plan (that was put together over a long period with residents' input) was done to allow higher density mixed use projects with medium density housing, and yet the residents there now complain if a high or medium-density project is proposed. It's like the people of EGR who think that it should stay a "small town". Are you kidding! East Grand Rapids is a stones throw from the urban center of the second largest city in Michigan. Uggggghhhh.

Oh, and the bi-levels along 131 going North drive me nuts too :P In fact, most of the ********* that live on those 2 acre open field lots only mow about a 100x200 piece of it :rofl:

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and yet the residents there now complain if a high or medium-density project is proposed.

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I have found in my travels that people fear phrases like "compact" "mixed-use" and "high density". They apparently think that "high-density" means a sixty story building will get build next to their tool shed. Then they complain about sprawl and traffic and blah blah blah. Well people, you want low-density, take a look at the cluster**** around you, because that is low density.

Of course, many of those people will oppose ANYTHING that comes along, no matter how needed, how low-impact, or how fantastic of a project it may be. NIMBYs and BANANAs drive me crazy.... :wacko::angry:

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I have found in my travels that people fear phrases like "compact" "mixed-use" and "high density".  They apparently think that "high-density" means a sixty story building will get build next to their tool shed.  Then they complain about sprawl and traffic and blah blah blah.  Well people, you want low-density, take a look at the cluster**** around you, because that is low density.

Of course, many of those people will oppose ANYTHING that comes along, no matter how needed, how low-impact, or how fantastic of a project it may be. NIMBYs and BANANAs drive me crazy.... :wacko:  :angry:

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I find it even worse when the NIMBnuts/BANANA nuts within the urban area oppose high-density around them because it CONTRIBUTES to sprawl. :wacko::silly:

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I find it even worse when the NIMBnuts/BANANA nuts within the urban area oppose high-density around them because it CONTRIBUTES to sprawl.  :wacko:  :silly:

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NIMBnuts :rofl:

That's just ridiculous. It is a complicated problem to solve, but this is the easy part. Building at higher densities makes sense in so many different ways (environmentally, aesthetically, tax base, cheaper utilities, etc etc etc)

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^eventually this will happen... Then GR will have another rockford or jenison to deal with.

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"NIMBYs and BANANAs drive me crazy..."

I know what NIMBY is, but what is "BANANA" an acronym for?

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"NIMBYs and BANANAs drive me crazy..."

I know what NIMBY is, but what is "BANANA" an acronym for?

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Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

It's not my original. I saw it somewhere else, and andy keeps bringing it up (and I still laugh every time) :lol:

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something about that lifestyle center on Ebeltline irks me though.

With the Malls just down the road (granted, it takes longer on E beltline thanks to the lights) and everyone on this board saying there should be a mall downtown, a development like this would seriously hurt the DT area. IF it wouldnt impavt the DT area at all, then I would be all for it. I think Celebration set back a theatre going downtown for another 5 years or so (a decade when it oopened)

Given that E beltline is very similar to Alpine in layout, if something like a lifestyle center went in (which sounds a lot like the green ridge plaza on alpine) I cant imagine how bad the traffic could become. I'm surprised you took that position GRDad, because I would think that would be the last thing anyone on here would want

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I have found in my travels that people fear phrases like "compact" "mixed-use" and "high density".  They apparently think that "high-density" means a sixty story building will get build next to their tool shed.  Then they complain about sprawl and traffic and blah blah blah.  Well people, you want low-density, take a look at the cluster**** around you, because that is low density.

Of course, many of those people will oppose ANYTHING that comes along, no matter how needed, how low-impact, or how fantastic of a project it may be. NIMBYs and BANANAs drive me crazy.... :wacko:  :angry:

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Very well said! I love it how its always the people living in sprawling neighborhoods that either complain about more sprawl going up around them, or complain that infilling and increasing densities will worsen their traffic...

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something about that lifestyle center on Ebeltline irks me though.

With the Malls just down the road (granted, it takes longer on E beltline thanks to the lights) and everyone on this board saying there should be a mall downtown, a development like this would seriously hurt the DT area. IF it wouldnt impavt the DT area at all, then I would be all for it. I think Celebration set back a theatre going downtown for another 5 years or so (a decade when it oopened)

Given that E beltline is very similar to Alpine in layout, if something like a lifestyle center went in (which sounds a lot like the green ridge plaza on alpine) I cant imagine how bad the traffic could become. I'm surprised you took that position GRDad, because I would think that would be the last thing anyone on here would want

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So was the guy gathering petitions. E Beltline is nothing like Alpine. It is a boulevard with FUML's all along it, and they have put in bike paths along a lot of it now. It could stand to be 6 lanes though, that's for sure. "Lifestyle villages" done correctly in the true sense (Celebration Village is a bad example) are more like a downtown, with live/work buildings, a main street, usually brownstone style townhouses or midrise living units. I think managed growth within what I think of as the "urbanized area" is good for the entire region, and doesn't detract from downtown, especially if it attracts world class retailers that we don't have already.

Plus, I think the Beltline would make an excellent candidate for a light rail/bike path line, because the right of ways are so large already IMO.

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So was the guy gathering petitions.  E Beltline is nothing like Alpine.  It is a boulevard with FUML's all along it, and they have put in bike paths along a lot of it now.  It could stand to be 6 lanes though, that's for sure.

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I hate to sound like the petitioner, but I hate hearing the words "expand" and "more lanes" put together.

I think managed growth within what I think of as the "urbanized area" is good for the entire region, and doesn't detract from downtown, especially if it attracts world class retailers that we don't have already.

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The problem is that if a world class retailer decided to move into downtown, sees this development and moves there it is detracting from downtown. It might take world-class retailers to get eople to go downtown, and not be combative about the parking situation.

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grdad...what is a FUML?

I just dont know about these "lifestyle centers". A red flag goes off in my brain now whenever I hear the phrase because a lot of crappy strip malls are being called this.

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grdad...what is a FUML?

I just dont know about these "lifestyle centers".  A red flag goes off in my brain now whenever I hear the phrase because a lot of crappy strip malls are being called this.

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F***ed Up Michigan Leftturn :P And I know, you're right. There are a lot of these that are being done very poorly. But the problem is, if these petitioners win the battle, than the development (s) will move futher OUT, not in. That is the problem.

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grdad...what is a FUML?

I just dont know about these "lifestyle centers".  A red flag goes off in my brain now whenever I hear the phrase because a lot of crappy strip malls are being called this.

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Those left turn lanes you see every few 100 feet. (At least thats what im guessing)

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