Moving the city forward requires being prepared

It seemed like a small matter in last week’s city council meeting.
But as is often the case, the devil’s in the details.
The council was presented with a resolution to update zoning requirements, and one item in that update drew quick attention.
That item was the taking away of council oversight in approving site plans.
Some members of the public, along with four councilmembers — Fadel Al-Marsoumi, Mohammed Hassan, Mohammed Alsomiri and Nayeem Choudhury — took issue with taking away council’s role in reviewing site plans.
Taking that task away, they said, would diminish the council’s voice in zoning matters.
On the surface, they had a point. But it showed that the four had failed to prepare for the vote, because rejecting the update came with heavy consequences.
It was pointed out that the resolution needed to be passed in order for the city to continue working with state economic officials toward streamlining the red tape that holds up economic development here.
Rejection of the resolution meant the possibility of missing out on various state programs and incentives.
It meant the city would get left behind.
And it was also pointed out that city councilmembers do not have the expertise to make such judgment calls in the first place.
That role is for members of the city’s Plan Commission.
As it turned out, after the resolution was rejected, the members who voted against it apparently realized their error, and agreed to allow the issue to move forward toward a final decision.
There are going to be more proposals down the road to further streamline doing business in Hamtramck. It would behoove councilmembers to do their research first – such as calling the city administration – on any proposal they might question.
Things are moving fast in Hamtramck, and councilmembers must get up to speed.
Feb. 21, 2020

13 Responses to Moving the city forward requires being prepared

  1. Nasr Hussain

    February 21, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    The council people opposing these changes are in the right.

    To streamline development process, the Redevelopment Ready Communities requirement is that:

    Site plans for permitted uses are approved administratively OR by the planning commission

    (Page 11)

    Nowhere does it say that council approval should be removed. (which is merely a two weeks wait at most)

    Currently any plan has to go through: Administrative review—> Planning Commission review —-> Council approval.

    The program requires that it should either go through administrative review OR Planning commission review
    to speed up the process.

    Administrative review is the best way to go with along with final council approval.

    Planning commission review is the bottleneck in this whole process which sometimes add months to the approval process and should be eliminated, assuming that the city trusts their building department to review the plans and make sure they are conforming to code.

    If any planning commission member has some concerns or feels that the zoning regulations are not followed by the building dept, they can easily appear before the council to share their concerns and prevent the plans from passing.

  2. Nasr Hussain

    February 21, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    The Coning Code amendments presented to the council made no sense. The state tells the city: Have plans approved either Administratively OR through the planning commission (one choice only), but illogically, city administration ignores these instructions and present the council with a third option that was never demanded (remove approval by city council),the least time-consuming part of the whole site plan approval process.
    The only explanation for this is that some people in the city’s administration do not want the planning commission to lose control of its excellent & exceptional role in hindering developments in Hamtramck.

  3. Resident

    February 23, 2020 at 1:15 am

    Thanks @Nasr for the link. RRC doesn’t say anything about council over site which means council over site should stay AS IS.

    The council should eliminate administrative review. Let the planning commission review. If there is any concern, administrator can raise it with planning commission.

    Council should not approve anything that takes away its rights.

    This resident hopes Council Members are able to find time on their busy schedule and are able to read the RRC document @Nasr referenced.


  4. Nasr Hussain

    February 23, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Planning commission only meets once a month and if there is no quorum twice a month while building dept officials are there everyday.
    From past experience most site plans occur because of the planning commission.

    Also, building officials have a much better understanding of the city codes, which they deal with everyday, than all the planning commission members combined.

    Also take into consideration that the building dept. employees are there everyday and any changes to the plan can be applied and approved in one day instead of the whole month or two waiting for the planning commission to convene.

    Hopefully the city’s administration take the right decision to speed up development in Hamtramck.

  5. Nasr Hussain

    February 23, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    Planning commission meets once in two months if there is no quorum and will never meet if there is no quorum.

  6. Resident

    February 23, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    Planning commission members are appointed. I hope the city council is able to replace members who are habitual no-show.

  7. Nasr Hussain

    February 24, 2020 at 10:08 am

    They are mayor’s appointees not council & anyways building officials are there everyday and are a much better choice to speed up development in Hamtramck.
    If planning commission members think that any ordinances were broken during the administrative approval process they can easily present their concerns to the council before the final approval.

  8. Resident

    February 24, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    If the planning commission members are not in the loop, they won’t know whether ordinances are violated or not. I imagine it’ll be difficult for them to raise any issue even if some exist.

    I hope the city charter provides a way to replace planning commission members who are habitual no-show.

    Dear Mayor Majewski – the impression is that some of your planning commission appointees are habitual no-show (I do not know as I have never attended a planning commission meeting). I hope you can do something about it. I imagine you won’t want to see anyone stand in the way of progress.


  9. Nasr Hussain

    February 25, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Even if they are 100% punctual, planning commission meets only once in a month while building department are working everyday which make them the logical choice for approving plans and speeding up development in Hamtamck.

  10. Resident

    February 25, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    Few years go City of Troy granted permit to a homeowner who wanted to build a garage. The homeowner did build the garage. However, the problem was that garage was so huge that it was almost as big as some of the neighboring houses. Residents complained and city realized that it made a mistake granting that permit. The same type of error could happen in our city if planning commission is bypassed and plans are approved administratively. Administrator could make error inadvertently or deliberately. City council will approve the plan (council isn’t going to say no to administrator who is authorized to approve plans). If serious error occurs, it’ll mean our city is incompetent – doesn’t know what it is doing.

    Our city should not sacrifice quality for the sake of expediency.


  11. Nasr Hussain

    February 26, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Don’t worry about this, which rarely happens, planning commission members or anybody for that matter can easily access the site plans, which should be posted on the city’s website, and share any concerns or perceived violations the might have with the building dept which if not corrected can be addressed at the council’s meeting for approval.

    That will be a win-win situation, a better input from the community and an expedient approval of the plans.

    Making developers wait for a month or two, if not more, is an insane thing to do just to keep the power in your hands and prevent the development of the city.

  12. Nasr Hussain

    February 26, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Besides, I doubt that Troy’s planning commission was ever presented with the plans for that garage.

    If you have a corrupt or mismanaged building dept, this indicate a much bigger, no matter how many planning review you have, they will always find ways to bypass the process, which by the way had happened quite a few times in Hamtramck.

  13. Nasr Hussain

    February 26, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    * much bigger problem

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