Shape Ypsi master planning launches new website, public outreach

A common criticism of government studies and plans is that after all the time and effort spent developing them, they are put into a binder and tucked into a shelf. With the recently launched "Shape Ypsilanti" website and social media campaign, the city of Ypsilanti intends to create a master planning process that defies such an outcome by being both active and flexible. 
The goal of a master plan is to establish a long-term vision for land use and development. The Shape Ypsilanti master planning process is a part of Washtenaw County’s Community Challenge Grant. The city will receive $180,000 to generate a master plan and zoning ordinance revisions. While the master plan itself garners most of the attention, the ordinance revisions are a major part of the project.
"We’re hoping to have the master plan drafted by this summer," says Ypsilanti City Planner Teresa Gillotti. "Then we switch gears and start revising our zoning ordinance. Then we'll have a little bit of muscle in the master plan."
According to Gillotti, building flexibility into the plan is the result a lesson the city learned after drastic changes to the economy altered the relevance of their 1998 master plan. Because no one can anticipate exactly what the future will hold, the Shape Ypsilanti process will include the unique feature of developing community values along with the land use vision. 
"We want to have consensus on our guiding principles, so when things change we still know where we’re going," says Gillotti. "Instead of saying, 'we can only do option A, B or C,' we can say, 'Does D fit our principles?' It’s a neat idea." 
The Shape Ypsilanti process launched Jan. 17 with an interactive website and social media. Public focus groups and charrettes will begin next month. Gillotti encourages members of the public to join in the planning process, and to visit the website for opportunities to get involved.

Source: Teresa Gillotti, Ypsilanti City Planner
Writer: Natalie Burg
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