Input sought on Niles master plan

Published 9:13 am Thursday, May 12, 2016

What should Niles look like five, 10, even 20 years in the future?

City leaders hope to find out the answer to this question during a public planning session from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at the Niles Fire Department, which is located at 1345 E. Main St., in Niles.

City staff are in the process of preparing master and consolidated plans that will guide city leaders in making decisions over the next five years about things like economic development, transportation, housing and infrastructure.

Sanya Phillips, the city’s director of community development, said the public planning session would offer several ways for residents to provide their thoughts, including through surveys, mapping and conversations.

“We really want the community’s input on this plan,” she said. “It is their money and it is our community. I think it works better when everybody has a voice.”

Master plans are documents that explain the state of a community as it is now and a recommendation for how it should look in the future.

“It’s a lot like a strategic plan for a business, but instead it is a strategic plan for an entire community,” she said. “It is intended to set the focus for five to 20 years depending on how long you intend to keep it.”

Through the planning process, city staff expect to identify priorities for housing, capital improvement, transportation systems, specialized projects, programs and activities and the resources needed to meet the overall well-being and economic vitality of the community.

Although the master planning process varies for each municipality, Phillips said most cities create a master plan every 20 years.

Niles last created a master plan in 2004. Phillips said she would like to do a master plan every five years with progress updates each year.

“I think we will stick with the five year range, but we will have some long term goals as well,” she said.

Information gathered during the public input session will be used to help draft the plan over the next year, Phillips said, adding that the public would have several more opportunities to provide input.

Those unable to attend can send a letter stating their opinions or position to the City of Niles (Attention: Community Development Director), 333 N. Second St., Niles, MI 49120, or email

The City of Niles will provide necessary reasonable auxiliary aids and services to those individuals with impairments who wish to attend its public meetings upon receiving at least one week’s notice. Any such individual requiring such aids or services should contact the city by writing to City of Niles ADA Coordinator, 333 N. Second St., Niles, MI, 49120, or calling (269) 683-4700 or (269) 683-1313 to access the TDD (Telecommunication Device for the Deaf) for individuals with hearing or speech impairment.