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Planning Department Current Projects

Planning Department Annual Reports:

2017 Planning Department Annual Report
2016 Planning Department Annual Report

Planning Commission Annual Reports:

2017 Planning Commission Annual Report
2016 Planning Commission Annual Report

2015 Planning Commission Annual Report
2014 Planning Commission Annual Report
2013 Planning Commission Annual Report

Planning Commission Goals:

Planning Commission Goals 2018
Planning Commission Goals 2017

Planning Commission Goals 2016
Planning Commission Goals 2015


Planning Department Current Projects:

Safe Routes to School

Safe routes to school walking audit at Glenn LoomisThe City Commission approved a resolution of support on October 24, 2016 to begin working on a city-wide Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program. Our project partners include representatives from Michigan Fitness Foundation, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS), Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools (GTACS), Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD), TC Trinity Lutheran, Norte!, TART Trails and more.

The 10 K-8 schools that we are working with are:

  • TBAISD New Campus School- 1100 Silver Drive
  • TBAISD Oak Park Campus-301 S. Garfield Ave
  • TCAPS Montessori School at Glenn Loomis- 1009 Oak Street
  • TCAPS Willow Hill Elementary-1250 Hill Street
  • TCAPS Central Grade School- 301 W. Seventh Street
  • TCAPS Eastern Elementary School- 1600 Eastern Avenue
  • TCAPS Traverse Heights Elementary- 933 Rose Street
  • GTACS Holy Angels Preschool and Elementary- 130 E. 10th Street
  • GTACS Immaculate Conception Elementary School- 218 Vine Street
  • Trinity Lutheran School- 1003 S. Maple Street

Through the program, we have an opportunity to apply for $200,000 per school for infrastructure and $8,000 per school for non-infrastructure (programming/encouragement likely handled by a non-profit partner). 

Safe Routes to School is a national and state program that promotes walking and biking to school along safe, accessible and convenient routes. National studies show that only 13% of students actively travel to school compared to 48% in 1969. And only half the students who live within a ¼ mile of school actually walk or bike. Studies and educators agree that physical and social activity prior to the start of the school day better prepares students for learning.

The City is preparing to submit a SRTS grant application to address some of the safety issues identified during a city-wide walking safety assessment, including the installation of approximately 4.9 miles of new sidewalks and trails. If the application is successful, the City will be able to install new sidewalks, necessary signage and street markings in identified areas at no cost to the individual property owner through MDOT’s Safe Routes to School grant program. It is our hope that the new sidewalks will promote a safer walking and biking environment for children while enhancing the walkability of Traverse City neighborhoods.

City of Traverse City Safe Routes to School work plan

Michigan Safe Routes to School website

National Safe Routes to School website


FishPass - Project page

FishPass is an innovative project to enhance fish passage and connectivity between the Boardman (Ottaway) River and Lake Michigan, while removing invasive or non-desirable fishes through controlled sorting. FishPass will replace the deteriorating Union Street Dam in downtown Traverse City, Michigan with an improved barrier featuring a fish-sorting channel and a nature-like river channel. Once constructed, scientists will optimize various sorting technologies and techniques below the barrier to maximize efficiency of passing desirable fishes and removing invasive fishes. For example, water velocity barriers, light guidance, video shape recognition, and eel ladder style traps are just some technologies that could be integrated at the facility to sort fish and effectively pass or remove animals. The project will develop into a living laboratory with a strong education and outreach component. Once optimized for bi-directional (up and downstream) selective fish passage, FishPass will be converted to a permanent selective fishway completing the Boardman River Restoration Project. Lessons learned from the optimization phase will be applied to similar rivers to create selective fish passage at new sites. The project could have regional, national, and global implications.

FishPass Concept Boardman River Traverse City


Plan It East- East Front Street Planning Process

This is a streetscape project which is pending property owner participation. Public involvement and schematic design is currently in process. IDF is the consultant leading who led the planning process and is currently leading the schematic design process. This project was a Rotary Charities grant funded planning effort consisting of a focused public engagement effort with property owners, tenants and the general public regarding various projects on the east end of East Front Street. A steering committee and staff advisory committee were formed to guide the project with assistance from a consultant. The Plan-It East project area consisted of one street, 3 city blocks, and 12 public spaces. The project area extended from Park Street to Grandview Parkway. The project goal was to provide a public engagement process and consensus regarding possible planned improvements to East Front Street and the 12 public spaces in the vicinity. The project final report can be accessed here (Large File).


Residential Parking Program Recommendations

Presentation link 


Traverse City and Grand Traverse County Analytic Project

Urban3, a firm specializing in conducting economic analyses for communities’ tax bases, has been hired to conduct an economic analysis of Traverse City and Grand Traverse County tax base on a per acre basis. Their work would include the relative potency of land uses and the creation of 2-D and 3-D graphics. Joe Minicozzi, Principal at Urban3 would present the findings of this analysis to the City Commission, various boards and to the community. Project analysis will consider the following:

  • The relative economic potency of land uses and the creation of 2D and 3D graphics
  • The delivery of those models to your planning department
  • An isolated analysis of various land use patterns within your community
  • Comparative analysis of your municipality within your County
  • Presentations of the models and powerpoint to your community, audiences determined by client: October 10-11 presentation (large file!); Video link
  • An online “StoryMap” website which will contain all graphics created as part of your analysis and an executive level narrative to complement the graphic. This will tell your community’s economic “story”. 

Eighth Street Planning and Design Charrette

The City of Traverse City requested proposals from qualified consultants to conduct a planning and design charrette for the Eighth Street corridor, from Union Street to Barlow Street, across the central part of the City. Farr Associates from Chicago was selected as the consultant and will develop a charrette that builds upon the City’s Corridors Master Plan with a focus on Eighth Street, but also recognizing its relationship to the surrounding neighborhoods. A central issue for the community has been the street design of Eighth Street. This charrette is intended to plan and design not only the street, but include surrounding land uses to develop comprehensive approach for the entire corridor.

Envision 8th Plan (A Vision Plan for the 8th Street Corridor)
Vision Plan aerial

Charrette study area



West Boardman Lake District project- consists of an analysis for the West Boardman Lake Avenue component of the Boardman Lake Brownfield Plan. The consultant selected to complete the work is LSL Planning. The Scope of Work and goals of the study include:

  1. Builds on previous work with a fresh perspective an reach a decision on the long discussed project. This will include a schematic design of the right-of-way.
  2. Provides the information necessary to fill in the gaps of previous studies and allows the City to take the project to the next stage of development, if deemed necessary.
  3. Engages staff, officials, stakeholders and the community in the creation of a preferred alternative. 
  4. Helps realize the goals of Traverse City: to increase connectivity for all modes, supports placemaking, maintains the environmental quality of the Boardman Lake, creatively considers land use development and neighborhood improvement, and honors the integrity of the existing neighborhoods.
  5. Creates a solid, technically-grounded plan that is illustrative, implementable and provides access to Brownfield properties for economic development to help fund the improvement. 
  6. Garners support from the public and city officials by demonstrating a knowledge, confidence and expertise while showing respect for public opinion and a responsibility to balance the needs and goals of stakeholders and residents with differing opinions. 

At the end of this study, the City will be able to determine whether to proceed and continue to set aside dollars for the implementation of this public infrastructure work through the Brownfield Plan.

Presentation to Planning Commission


The Michigan Municipal League (League) Traverse City PlacePlan project- consists of recommendations for prioritizing placemaking activities on the West Front Street corridor from Hall Street to Division Street. The project, which uses as its foundation the 2013 Corridors Master Plan and is based on over a year of research, conversation with local stakeholders and hands-on experimentation, focuses on three specific pieces of an interlocking puzzle:

    • A community-supported design plan for reinvigorating the City-owned property on the north side of Front Street, just west of Oak Street (aka “City Lot”);
      • City Lot Project- City Lot is between Little Bohemia Restaurant and Oak St off of West Front St. and includes an existing fire station, office building, parking lot, alley, and greenspace and creek. Click here to review the final report of the CityLot project.
    • A development feasibility study of selected properties along Front Street to demonstrate the potential – and some of the challenges associated with – infill development along the corridor; and
    • A draft form-based code, which is intended to replace to existing zoning ordinance for this corridor and transform the way development is regulated.
League and City staff jointly identified these three focal points as the most effective use of time and resources. Each of the three was addressed by a different team of expert consultants, with League staff as the overall project manager. 
Traverse City 2015 PlacePlan: West Front Corridor Action Plan Final Report

Implementation of the Bayfront Plan 2010
  • Clinch Park Revitalization (completed 2013)
  • Public Pier and Murchie Bridge
      • Scope of work to include a universally accessible multi-purpose pier that will be approximately 15-feet wide and will projet 550-feet into Grand Traverse Bay at the mouth of the Boardman River.
      • A $232,000 Great Lakes Fisheries Trust grant was received in December 2013 to complete environmental studies, design and engineering. Studies and design to be completed in 2015.
    • Slabtown Beach (West End Beach Trail and Access Project)
      • The scope of work includes the extension of a non-motorized trail along the north side of M-72/West Grandview Parkway from the parking lot at West End Beach to Elmwood Avenue, a distance of approximately 1,100 feet; a pedestrian crossing of M-72/West Grandview Parkway near the alignment of Elmwood Avenue connecting the trail extension with neighborhoods and trail networks to the south. North of the trail crossing intersection, a small viewing platform and ramped access to the beach will be constructed; also a stormwater treatment structure will be installed to separate oil and grit street runoff and reduce this current form of point-source pollution directly into Grand Traverse Bay.
      • A $173,931.87 MDOT Enhancement Grant was awarded in 2012 for the construction of the project. Construction completed in 2014.
    • Boardman River Boatlaunch Project
      • Scope of work includes installation of new launch and piers, a universally accessible canoe/kayak launch, resurfacing the parking lot in the turnaround area and launch exit, installation of retaining walls near the launch and turnaround to stabilize eroding site banks, installation of trees and native plantings, and boat cleaning/invasive species education signage. Construction planned in 2016.
    • Other Bayfront Plan phases in early development including: West End Beach, TART Trail Division to Hall, Hall to Oak St Promenade, Hall Street Beach, Open Space, Con Foster Commons, Marina Boat Launch Parking, Holiday Inn, Sunset Park and Senior Center

 Hannah Park sculpture plaza

    • The statue of Perry Hannah was installed in 2015. It was paid for with proceeds from sales of the book “Perry Hannah’s Gifts Then and Now” and the History Center of Traverse City has received a grant from the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation to fund the entire cost of the plaza improvement. 


 Boardman Lake Trail West extension

    • Project scope includes the extension of the Boardman Lake non-motorized trail from approximately 10th Street to 14th Street (2,900 linear feet), a connection to the Old Towne Neighborhood, and the addition of a lakefront recreational area that will feature a fishing dock, kayak/canoe small watercraft launch, shelter, picnic areas and seating.
    • A $210,000 Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant was received in October 2012. Construction completed in 2014.

 Implementation of the Corridors Master Plan

    • The Planning Commission via representation on the Corridor Steering Committee assisted in the development of the Corridors Master Plan for 8th Street, 14th Street, Garfield Avenue and East and West Front Streets. The Plan provides strategies for revitalizing these corridors as attractive places to dwell and develop business. Quarterly implementation reports will be prepared.


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Active Transportation Plan

    • An Active Transportation committee of the Planning Commission has been formed to guide the process to create a Non-Motorized Plan and then reapply for Bicycle Friendly Community designation.

Master Plan Elements implementation

    • Assess and implement an action plan for short-term and long-term zoning changes to the Traverse City Code of Ordinances to conform to the approved Master Plan Elements.


Grand Traverse Commons Zoning Ordinance

parkstreetpeds.jpgTraverse City Stops for Pedestrians Local Ordinance

    • In 2011, the City passed a Local Ordinance that requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in marked and posted crosswalks. In 2012, City Staff formed a committee to establish a process to work toward implementation. A public education campaign was worked on in 2013. Plans to launch the education program and begin enforcement has been delayed.
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This page last updated on 7/5/2018.