Sterling Heights to consider new Commercial Landscaping Ordinance
There are significant changes coming to the commercial landscaping ordinance that you should be paying attention to if you own a business or business property in Sterling Heights.
The Planning Commission reviewed the changes at tonight’s meeting, and the matter is scheduled to come up for a vote at the September 8 meeting. Some of the changes are simple common sense, and they align with what has been practiced for the past year. Some changes, however, are going to be controversial, involving new landscaping requirements, and the potential for these new requirements to become effective on businesses which have not maintained their landscaping according to their original approved site plans, even going back as far as the 1970s.
There will be a grace period before the requirement to bring things up to current standards goes into effect. Before that date, July 1, 2017, a business property can be brought into compliance with the standards in place when their original site plan was approved. After that date, however, a non-complying business property would have to be brought up to 2016 standards. There will be provisions within the ordinance allowing the city to work with business and business property owners on a flexible time schedule to make the required improvements.
The City Planner and attorney stressed at the meeting that the law is going to be applied sensibly, and I take them at their word. However, several of my fellow commissioners and I felt there will be some folks caught unaware by the new ordinance, and there may be some backlash against the somewhat retroactive nature of part of the law.
I personally want the word about this new law to get out well in advance of the meeting next month so the community has a chance to examine what has been proposed and let the city administration and the Planning Commission know how it feels about the changes. I would not describe myself as being against this new ordinance, however I do believe that public officials do their best work when a well-informed populace can give them feedback. There is time for what ultimately goes to City Council to be revised and tweaked if residents feel it is necessary and can convince the Planning Commission to go in that direction.
I give the city administration credit, they and the city’s legal team has obviously spent a lot of time and thought on crafting this proposal, and they’re doing it for sound reasons. The move forward towards realizing the Vision 2030 plan is ongoing. The devil may be in the details, however, and if you do business in Sterling Heights, you will want to be informed about this new law.