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Community Updates: Friday, February 24

Grand Rapids City Commission holds four public hearings at Tuesday's meeting; and more
The Blue Bridge, the Grand River, and the buildings of downtown Grand Rapids peeking out from behind the trees

The Blue Bridge, the Grand River, and the buildings of downtown Grand Rapids peeking out from behind the trees /John Rothwell

Grand Rapids City Commission Holds Four Public Hearings at Tuesday's Meeting

On Tuesday, February 21, the Grand Rapids City Commission held its second (and final) meeting of the month at City Hall. This meeting, which ran for approximately three hours, included four public hearings that allowed the Commissioners to hear resident input on four different applications and proposals received by the City Commission.

The first public hearing was held in response to a commemorative street designation request submitted to the City of Grand Rapids earlier this year by the Renaissance Church of God in Christ. This request, if approved, would designate a portion of 33rd Street as "Bishop Dennis J. McMurray Way," in honor of the life and legacy of the late Bishop Dennis J. McMurray. Bishop McMurray, who served as the Senior Pastor at the Renaissance Church of God in Christ, was well-known throughout the Grand Rapids community. According to the request letter sent to the Grand Rapids City Manager and Chief of Staff by Renaissance Church, Bishop McMurray "...has been a beacon of hope and inspiration for countless individuals, providing spiritual guidance and leadership, support, and a sense of belonging to those who need it most."

After Tim Burkman, City Engineer, provided the Commission and meeting attendees with a brief overview of the requirements and process of commemorative street designations, this hearing was opened to the public. Parris McMurray, Bishop McMurray's son and Senior Pastor of the Renaissance Church of God in Christ took the podium to express his support for this designation and what he believes is a way to: "ensure that not only does [Bishop McMurray's] legacy continue forward for [the Renaissance Church], but that his legacy continues forward for the City of Grand Rapids." Many other members of the Renaissance Church community, including founders and board members, were also in attendance.

According to Mayor Bliss, the final decision on this commemorative street designation request will be made by the Grand Rapids Community Development Committee in March.

The second public hearing was for a proposed grant application drafted by the Grand Rapids Department of Parks and Recreation. This grant, from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, would provide $300,000 in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars to help support improvement projects at Grand Rapids' Highland Park. Nobody from the public came up to speak on this item. 

The third public hearing was held to get resident input on a proposed Revised Brownfield Plan Amendment for a development project on Quimby Street. This development would create a building with a ground-floor commercial space and several new residential units. Of the residential units this project would create, 40 are studios, 20 are one-bedroom units, and three are two-bedroom units. The estimated rental rates provided in the report are:  

Studio $1,299/month
One-bedroom $1,499/month
Two-bedroom $2,199/month

The community had mixed reactions about this development project. Several individuals took the podium to speak against this project, many of whom cited the current housing crisis in Grand Rapids (and Kent County as a whole). "These apartments are likely to exacerbate the housing crisis in our City, not better it," one resident stated. Two local business owners were also in attendance to support this project, with one of them calling it "a breath of fresh air." 

The last public hearing was for residents to weigh in on a few proposed amendments to the City Code, including the addition of a new chapter dedicated to Lead-Based Paint. Like the previous public hearing, the community expressed mixed feelings about these proposed amendments, particularly those having to do with lead testing. Several members of the community took the podium to voice their support of these amendments -- including landlords, families, and community organizations. Some even encouraged the Commission to take this even further. "We should not just limit this to income-producing properties or rental properties, this should be [for] all homes and structures built before 1978," one rental-property owner stated. "If we are up here... as a community, concerned about the health and safety of children, then all homes should be tested."

However, several other local rental-property owners took the podium to disagree with these proposed amendments for a variety of reasons. According to one individual, "the addition of the proposed lead-based paint requirements will add little to no positive impact toward resolving the lead paint issue beyond what is already required by the existing property maintenance code."

To watch the full City Commission meeting, visit the City of Grand Rapids's YouTube channel or watch below: 


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