The Comprehensive Plan Update will guide the physical growth and redevelopment of the City of Kalamazoo (Figures I-1 and I-2). Under State statute, "the plan shall be made with the general purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted and harmonious development of the municipality and its environs...in accordance with present and future needs ..... as well as efficiency and economy in the process of development ...." (MCL 125.37). This objective is to be accomplished through "a citizen inclusive process that studies the physical, social, economic and cultural structure of Kalamazoo and its environs and builds consensus of the community's vision for its future" (from the mission statement for the Comprehensive Plan, adopted by the Planning Commission June 22, 1995).

1. Purpose

The Comprehensive Plan is the key public policy guide for managing the physical environment of the community, including the use of land, the phasing of infrastructure (roads and utilities) to support development, the accommodation of community facilities and the protection of natural/manmade amenities, for the present and future. Ultimately, the Comprehensive Plan reflects the values of the community in balancing the competition for land to sustain the economic viability and the quality of life of the community.

The comprehensive planning process for a community consists of:

  • Taking stock of what a community is and how it has evolved into its present form;
  • Analyzing the factors that influence a community in the future;
  • Establishing goals, objectives, and policies to guide a community as it undergoes change and confronts development timing and location and supporting public investment; and
  • Developing a program that will translate these goals, objectives and policies into reality.

The key words from the description above are "process" and "change." Plans grow and change over time. A program for community development will accomplish its goals only if it is current and workable. Thus, because communities are constantly changing, the goals, objectives and policies guiding that change must be scrutinized from time-to-time to ensure continued effectiveness in achieving a desirable future for the community. Hence, a Comprehensive Plan is part of a continuing process that evaluates how the community got where it is, knows where it wants to go and how it is going to get there.

Figure I-1 Location in Midwest

Figure I-2: Location in Kalamazoo County

Keeping planning current and flexible is crucial to the community's ability to guide and balance its development as conditions change, unforeseeable events occur, old problems are solved, new ones arise and new methods are found to solve them.

The City of Kalamazoo has continued the process of comprehensive planning by authorizing the 1997 update of the 1977 Comprehensive Plan. Since that 1977 Plan was approved, the City has experienced:

  • A redistribution of population and employment to outlying areas with little absolute population and employment growth.
  • A continuing decline in the condition of housing in older neighborhoods.
  • Increasing obsolescence of older commercial and industrial structures due to shifts in the concentration of population and to new manufacturing processes.
  • Increased traffic due to the increased trip-making of smaller households and longer trips due to a more dispersed metropolitan area.
  • Increased development pressure on the limited amount of vacant land remaining, heightening concerns for environmental preservation and compatibility with surrounding areas.
  • Replacement, upgrading, and normal aging of public facilities and infrastructure.

The 1997 Comprehensive Plan Update is intended to consider in detail how the changes described above, as well as other factors, are affecting, or will likely affect the future of The City of Kalamazoo, and to outline appropriate strategies for directing this development.

If the Comprehensive Plan is consulted in public and private decisions concerning the physical environment of the community and is flexible enough to guide rather than dictate decision-making, the 1997 Comprehensive Plan Update will be an important tool for community progress.

 2. Jurisdiction

Although the authority of the City of Kalamazoo Comprehensive Plan Update is confined to the City of Kalamazoo (Figure I-2), it may be consulted by other jurisdictions in regard to major land use decisions near the corporate limits of the City. At the present time, the City of Kalamazoo is surrounded by other jurisdictions that have their own comprehensive plans and land use controls.

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