OWOSSO — The city’s 2020 master plan update has been approved — minus a previously included initiative to reduce the number of lanes on Main Street in Westown from four to two with a center turn lane.
During Monday’s Owosso City Council meeting, City Manager Nathan Henne noted the proposed narrowing of Main in Westown was removed from the master plan by the Owosso Planning Commission.
The idea had prompted many objections, including from council member Dan Law, who said at the time that a narrower Main Street would cause traffic jams.
Mayor Chris Eveleth previously said he believes the lane changes were unlikely to happen anyway, since M-21 is managed by the Michigan Department of Transportation, not the city.
The master plan contains a community profile and vision, future land use ideas, implementation strategies and other information. The new plan is the first update in eight years.
Planning Commission members spent about two years drafting the plan. The plan has been scrutinized through public hearings and a review period of two months.
“I think we’re in good shape,” council member Janae Fear said.
The plan’s key strategies for Westown include:
n Expanding the Westown corridor boundary to capture future development and support necessary infrastructure and streetscape improvements.
n Continuing to invest in the rehabilitation of buildings along Main Street, between State and Cedar streets, to reinforce the sense of place and support existing and future businesses. This includes facade improvements and signage that enhances the historic integrity of the buildings.
n Exploring a potential open space opportunity west of the railroad tracks near the intersection of State Street. The site is currently undeveloped private property.
n Exploring opportunities for new attached residential development to increase pedestrian traffic in the district and provide a transition to the adjacent neighborhoods. Opportunities include a commercial site at Main and Cedar, and the former Vaunguard site.
In addition, the plan encourages retaining the same number of on-street parking spaces, installing enhanced sidewalk amenities and planting more trees along the street.
Key strategies for downtown:
n Expanding and sustaining a model of “competition”among downtown Owosso businesses, organizations and attractions.
n Promoting the success and brand of downtown Owosso through better storytelling.
n Improving connections to the Shiawassee River and increasing the amount of dedicated open space.
n Supporting historic rehabilitation and compatible redevelopment.
n Establishing a downtown zoning district to regulate new development.
n Supporting upper-story residential developments.
n Promoting downtown as a hub for arts and culture.
“I don’t want this plan to sit on the shelf,” Henne said Monday. “I want to look at it every year.”
The full master plan can be reviewed on the city’s website, ci.owosso.mi.us, under the “forms and documents” tab at the top of the home page.