With limited area available for new growth, the City of Sterling Heights, MI, seeks to create a sustainable future through land use and parks and recreation development. The City’s population of 130,000 has increased by more than 100% since 1970 with only 5% of its 36.8 square miles still available for development. Wade Trim is leading a team of professional firms to update the City’s Master Land Use Plan and Parks and Recreation Master Plan over the next 18 months.

Located within one of southeast Michigan’s most prominent economic growth corridors, the City is home to more than 3,500 commercial and industrial businesses including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler Assembly Plant, Ford Motor Company’s Sterling Axle Plant, and Lakeside Mall, a 1.5 million-square-foot shopping center. The City also draws more than 500,000 people annually to Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, a premier outdoor entertainment venue.

Building on its strengths, the City is turning its planning attention to in-fill development proposals and redevelopment opportunities, while simultaneously protecting and preserving established neighborhoods. It is also exploring placemaking strategies – quality of place, scale, mix and connections – to attract the next wave of residents, including identifying key opportunities to expand the park system. The Plans will be market-driven, based on a deeper understanding of the market preferences for housing, desired leisure activities, and the discretionary spending habits of residents.

Extensive public engagement will be used throughout the planning program including an interactive project website, a community-wide Vision Fair, two community forum events, quarterly broadcasts on the City’s cable television station, and multiple study meetings with the City’s Planning Commission. The planning program is expected to be complete by fall 2016.