City planners who are helping the Greater Hilltop Area amend its land use plan have turned to technology at the initial stage of the work.
Planner Christine Palmer told the Greater Hilltop Area Commission at its March 2 meeting that this is the first plan update project that is making use of Facebook.
“We have 100 friends on our page,” she said.
Palmer said they chose to start the project online since “is it hard to get people out to workshops.”
After the initial steps drew people online to express their views, information is being compiled and will be presented at a public workshop. No date or location has been chosen at this time.
From the initial response, Palmer said priorities are being set. Tops among the concerns voiced online are the general business development of Broad Street and the general appearance of the areas along Sullivant Avenue and Broad Street.
Also high on the list are development and cultivation of environmental resources and open spaces, and residential development.
Some specifics that have been mentioned include mixed use development along both Broad Street and Sullivant Avenue; limiting the amount of new retail and commercial development on Sullivant Avenue; and filling in the northwest quadrant of the area around the Great Western Shopping Center. Indications are that people want this area to be employment based, with such uses as light industry, research and development, laboratories, warehouse distribution and office space.
The northwest quadrant is bounded by West Broad Street, Interstate 270, Interstate 70 and Wilson Road.
What people have indicated they would like to see in the southern part is new or enhanced roads and pedestrian and bicycle connectors between parks and neighborhoods. That area is bounded by Clime Road on the north, I-270 on the south and west and the CSX tracks on the east.
People also weighed in on what they would like to see at the Great Western Shopping Center and at the corner of Powell and West Broad streets.
Palmer characterized the shopping center as having an overabundance of parking spaces with not enough business. Suggestions for the shopping center were to create a mixed use of retail and office space along with multifamily residences.
Suggestions of mixed use buildings were also listed for the northwest corner of Powell and West Broad with retail businesses on the first floor and residential space on the second floor. One floor buildings topped the suggestions for the southwest corner of that intersection. At both corners, development would be 10 to 15 feet away from the street so there could be wide sidewalks. Parking would be behind these buildings.
On the topic of urban design, Palmer explained that housing on Broad and Sullivant would be multifamily and should include front stoops, porches, balconies and small plazas to ensure they contribute to street life. New commercial development design guidelines favored are pedestrian elements, an emphasis on landscaping and a consistent level detailing and finish should be provided for all sides of a building.
With this initial response, plans will draft the plan document and present it at a public workshop that will ultimately need GHAC approval as well as approval from the city’s Development Department and City Council.
The area plan is a document that details how the area should look several years down the road.
GHAC Chair Chuck Patterson advised commissioners to study it carefully before they are asked to vote on it.
The plan is available for viewing at http://tinyurl.com/HilltopPlan.
On a related topic of planning, Cheryl Huffman of Neighborhood Designcenter, said she has undertaken a study of parking spaces on Broad Street between Wheatland and Hague to see what improvements could be made.
She said the study includes both on-street and off-street parking. She identified “off-street” as parking availability on side streets as far as two houses off Broad Street or to the first alley.
“We have begun collecting data about how many spaces are available,” she told the commission, “and how many are being utilized.”
She is speaking with merchants about the need for and use of parking spaces and how that relates to the number of customers they have. Her survey includes the use of spaces at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as Saturday.
She said she plans to have her survey completed and information compiled to present to the public at an open house on March 30 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at Hillcrest Baptist Church, 2480 W. Broad St.