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Beline Obeid

Updates would guide land use near Beaumont

November 15, 2012
CITY OF GROSSE POINTE — This city's new master plan outlines a health care district that critics feel was contrived to grease the skids for enlargement of Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe.

"It eases the way for expansion," said Joan Louwers, a homeowner across the street from the hospital at the corner of Cadieux and Maumee. "It's going to increase traffic more than double."

She's lived there 40 years.

The hospital, now owned by Beaumont, was founded in 1945 as Bon Secours.

Louwers took up residence before the facility grew, merged, invested and, Louwers would characterize, sprawled into the era of full-care community hospitals.

"When I moved there, there was a front lawn at the hospital," she said. "It was beautiful."

The lawn is smaller now.

Yet, the full-service hospital is more beautiful than ever to City of Grosse Pointe Councilman Chris Walsh.

A family member benefited in recent years from its big-city medical proficiency. He and the rest of the clan was comforted by the staff's small-town customer service.

"There are benefits to having a community hospital," Walsh said. "Instant admittance. They knew us. We could walk over to the hospital and be amongst our family. It is something I'll never forget."

Either way, the new master plan doesn't spell expansion, according to everyone on the council, including recent convert, Councilman Christopher Boettcher.

"We need to establish this district," he said, "so we can lay down rules when somebody comes before us with a plan — and hear what each resident would like to see across the street."

The hospital district overlays the entire block containing Beaumont, including plots containing houses, many of which the hospital has bought.

Establishing the district makes it easier for city officials to regulate the area and enforce zoning restrictions, according to council members.

Adopting a new master plan is the "first important step in to clearly identify zoning requirements," Boettcher said.

Master plans are supposed to be general outlines to the future.

"To me, it is, at most, a suggestion," said Councilwoman Jean Weipert.

Hospital expansion is "not anything close to being a done deal," she said.

State law requires cities to review, not change or update, master plans every five years.

The City's revision is its first since 2004, according to Peter Dame, city manager.

"We've engaged, through much of the year, a public process to consider input into what changes we might make to our master plan," Dame said.

The process concluded Monday, Nov. 12, with the council's unanimous adoption of a revised plan.

"It's an overall guiding framework for land use," said Dame.

Other updates concern commercial districts on Fisher, the length of Mack and in the three-block downtown Village.

The goal on Mack is to broaden land uses and standardize regulations.

Updates recognize Fisher as a unique business district.

In the Village, a transition zone to neighboring residential neighborhoods is established. The zone, off of St. Clair south of Kercheval, is being eyed for construction of senior housing or a hotel.

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