US Economic Development Administration Approves City of Wixom Plan

The US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, recently approved the City of Wixom’s 2014 Economic Development Strategy developed with assistance from a team of planning, branding, and economic development consultants. This team, led by Lathrup Village-based Clearzoning, Inc., presented the final plan to City Council in June 2014. The plan was designed to create a broad framework for attracting and retaining businesses and building upon the existing assets of the City. At the council meeting, City Manager Tony Nowicki, summarized the economic development project as having three main components: 1) an assessment of the City’s assets and strategies to help fill gaps in the market for industrial, retail, and research and development businesses; 2) a guide to an efficient land development review process within the City; and 3) the development of the City’s unique “brand voice”—an understanding of who the City is, what it has to offer, and how that message is best shared.  Strategies to strengthen the attractiveness of the workforce through education and specialized training are also included. In addition, the project team shared opportunities to facilitate collaborations between existing businesses and potential new businesses. Howard Kohn, president of The Chesapeake Group, part of the project team, summarized opportunities identified through this process, including the potential for five million or more square feet of “industrial” space in the next ten years. He noted that “Some will be traditional manufacturing and some will be “new” office/industrial manufacturing.” Site Specific Opportunities were discussed. The strategy acknowledges the need for additional training in certain targeted areas (e.g., software testing, IT training, robotics, and health care). Rod Arroyo, president of...

Fairmont, West Virginia Ready to Streamline Zoning Code

Clearzoning is pleased to be working with the city of Fairmont, West Virginia on a project to transform their zoning code with a new layout, graphics, and organization. This update will result in an ordinance that is available online and in paper format. The new code will be particularly useful in its electronic format, where hyperlinks between sections will help users better understand how zoning regulations impact new development and redevelopment. This new code will allow users to get the answers to basic zoning questions any time of the day or night, saving time for the user as well as for City staff. Additional information on this project is available from the City of Fairmont, and from the Times West Virginian, in an article published on June 25,...

Watertown Township in Clinton County, Michigan Adopts New Zoning Code Based on Clearzoning Format

Watertown Township’s Zoning Ordinance Has Improved Format Using Clearzoning We are pleased to announce that Watertown Township in Clinton County, Michigan is our newest Clearzoning community. Watertown is the first municipality in Clinton Township to enhance its zoning code by adding the online functionality, new organization, and graphic enhancements from Clearzoning....

Planning Trends for 2014 – What Trends are Impacting Community Planning and Real Estate?

Sessions at the 2014 National Planning Conference in Atlanta and other recent research have shed light on important planning trends emerging in our new post-recession economy. The following highlights some key findings: Aging Population The population within the 7-county Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) region is currently about 4.71 million people (December 2013). Between 2010 and 2040, this population is expected to grow by a total of 8 % (4.70 to 4.74 million people). Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) The senior population (65+) in the SEMCOG region is expected to grow by 85 % between 2010 and 2040. The youth population (under 18 years) is expected to decline by 13.8 % during this same period. SEMCOG Low Birth Rate The U.S. fertility rate in 2012 of 63.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15-44 years. This is the lowest birth rate since the government started tracking this statistic in 1909 (when the birth rate was 127 per 1,000). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Shifting Housing Preferences Two demographic cohorts are driving the transformation of residential and non-residential development: 1) aging baby boomers – born 1946-1964 – now in their 50s and 60s and pursuing empty-nester lifestyles and 2) young echo-boomers – born 1977 to 1995 – now in their 20s and early 30s, also known as Gen Y or Millennials. They want to live in high-density, urban environments, not suburbs. They are tech-savvy and socially-interconnected – they don’t find suburban office developments attractive places to work. James Hughes, Rutgers University By 2040, 40 % of the demand for new housing will be for attached and multiple-family units...
Food Truck Feeding Frenzy: Making Sense of Mobile Food Vending

Food Truck Feeding Frenzy: Making Sense of Mobile Food Vending

Food Truck Feeding Frenzy: Making Sense of Mobile Food Vending Link: Slides from the APA Conference Presentation by Rod Arroyo Recent economic and cultural trends show an explosion in the popularity of food trucks, or mobile vendors, over the past several years. According to research done by Emergent for the National Restaurant Association, the growth of mobile food trucks will soar in the next five years, generating up to $2.7 billion in revenue nationally by 2017—up from $650 million in 2012 (Emergent Research 2012). All across the country, cities, small towns, and suburbs are seeing food trucks popping up, some in unexpected places like office and industrial parks, where zoning ordinances typically preclude restaurants. Amplifying the push for food trucks are the twin trends of “buying local” and “food-as-entertainment” that are enhanced by programs such as the Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network. While ice cream trucks and job-site lunch wagons haven’t disappeared, they are increasingly being joined by gourmet trucks and trucks specializing in ethnic offerings. All across the United States, people are exploring how mobile food vending might make a difference in their lives and their communities. More resources are starting to become available for potential business owners. Networks for mobile food vendors are growing; the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association was formed in 2010 as one of the first associations dedicated to helping vendors break down barriers to business (www.socalmfva.com). And, in Fall 2013, Roam — a first ever industry conference for mobile food suppliers and owners— took place in Portland, Oregon. What Is Mobile Food Vending? Regulatory codes for many communities recognize...

Project Tango – New Google Device Creates 3D Maps

Google 3D mapping provides urban planning possibilities Google’s Advanced Technology And Projects (ATAP) program called Project Tango now has a new mobile device that tracks 3D motion and maps user environments.  The current prototype is a 5” phone that tracks the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the surrounding environment.  The end result is a 3D model of the space around you. According to Google’s web site for this project, here are some of the possibilities: What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store? For planners, a trip to a benchmark development – e.g., successful downtown, new sports stadium, etc. – would result in a 3D model that could be shared with others.  The magic of the place could then be more effectively understood by people that have never been there.  The possibilities for application across multiple platforms are endless. Here is a link to the Google site: http://www.google.com/atap/projecttango/ <...