Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Loft construction may begin soon

Loft construction may begin soon

It's hard not to get excited about the proposed loft construction where Ashmore's Truck Rental used to be after viewing the artist's rendering in last week's Mirror. Unless, of course, you live behind it.

A few months ago, after a zoning commission meeting was adjourned due to lack of seating for the hoards, I met with a couple of my neighbors who live close to Woodward behind Wetmore's who weren't excited about their properties being rezoned. I suggested there were three types of people with three different views of the project.

The first is people whose homes will be rezoned, prohibiting them from selling or rebuilding another home on the same property. These are the same people who if they stay in their house they'll be looking at the back of a multi-story building instead of the back of businesses like, well, like Wetmore's. As noisy as that business is, it's only noisy during the day when people expect disturbances. With an apartment building (or townhouses or condominiums) noise will be more persistent.

Another group of people are residents who live far enough away their quality-of-life won't be impacted and are excited about anyone wanting to build in Ferndale, especially if it means bringing in more residents, more children, and increasing the tax base. In their opinion, these are all good things. They're especially good if you're suffering from Royal-Oak-Envy, and see all the new residential construction going on there and wondering why Ferndale isn't seeing as much of it. The article above mentions townhouse pricing in the range of $100,000-$700,000. Certainly at the upper-end of that range we're expecting higher-income residents, probably professionals, which is a good thing for area businesses and restaurants.

The last group is developers who probably have their eyes roaming up and down Woodward throughout Ferndale, licking their chops over the lower property values (compared to Royal Oak) while still maintaining proximity for their prospects to both the Ferndale and Royal Oak downtown shopping and dining districts. That's good news for the city.

How each constituency makes out in the end remains to be seen. The city, especially its neighborhoods, needs renewal. It may be impossible for everyone to be happy. As a friend of mine who was once a civil-court judge once told me, he knew he'd made a good ruling if both parties were equally upset. Maybe Ferndale can pull this off and know they've made good policy when everyone is equally satisfied.


  1. I really, really do not want Ferndale to be the new Royal Oak, though the Mayor and Council obviously want that. It might be different if I thought my taxes would be lower due to more businesses and people, but when they spend money on a sound system or the crow's nest/memorial while contemplating laying off city workers (I don't think they did) and letting the library fall apart they don't seem very civic minded.

    What can we do about that?

  2. I'm sure the budget is a complicated thing, and it afford small purchases like sound systems and crows' nests, but having enough room for the salaries is another thing.

    At the end of April, Ferndale projected a $1.4 million deficit but no citizens showed-up to express their opinions on how it might be managed.

    Which is why cuts are expected in the police and fire departments as well as an increase in the water rates.

    What can we do?

    One thing I need to do is pay more attention to what's going on at city council. I'm increasingly disappointed with decisions being made concerning zoning and variances. I also object to city councilpersons using their position as an elected representative to promote their pet nothing-to-do-with-city-politics projects.

  3. I'd very much like to see the budget and how it is spent. Is that publicly available somehow?

    I notice they always threaten the police and fire departments. I remember applying for the city clerk position because I thought it was overpaid. I know the mayor and council don't make too much (unless something was passed on another Monday) but I do wonder about the other city personnel. Why does Tom Barwin make so much?

    I also thought Ferndale sold some land to a chemical company. What happened to that?

    Why is the meeting on a Monday instead of Saturday or Sunday? I guess I have to get a bunch of people together to change it, some Monday. Maybe the war protesters can leave the corner of Woodward & 9 and get involved in actual politics once. (Although that could be very bad too).

  4. Police and Fire are probably two of the biggest budget items, but your right that getting a copy of the budget is probably a good idea. It would also be a good idea to find out how much money we have to start with and how much we can anticipate from the state. Until the state figures out how to replace the revenue from the Single Business Tax, we can probably expect to lose that income too.

    I don't know what Tom Barwin is paid, but as much as I disagree with some of his activities I hope the position is well compensated. These are important management positions and we should have our selection of the best candidates.

    Same goes for city councilpersons and the mayor. More on that another time.

    The council meets 2nd and 4th Mondays because the city charter says it must, absent a resolution to meet another time. I think meeting in the evening is a good idea so citizens can participate, but I also think in 2006 all council, commission, and board meetings should be broadcast real-time on the local access channel. It would also be great if the local channel had a directory guide so people knew what time different meetings would be broadcast.