City to Host Community Meetings on Proposed Crime Prevention Ordinance

PRESS RELEASE- The City of Grand Rapids Planning Department will hold two community meetings this month to discuss the development of a proposed crime prevention ordinance. The hour-long meetings will take place Wednesday, April 24 at 1 pm and 6:30 p.m. at the City’s Development Center, 1120 Monroe Ave. NW.

Through this engagement, the City hopes residents and representatives from neighborhood associations and business districts provide feedback on a new crime-prevention approach that incorporates environmental design aspects to curb crime in the community. The approach – Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) – utilizes multifaceted methods to deter criminal behavior and foster quality of life in and around business districts. It accomplishes that through the use of passive strategies incorporated into the normal planning, design and management of physical structures.

The agenda for each meeting will be the same. Planning staff will outline current issues, detail the proposed approach and review the proposed ordinance language. Attendees will be asked to brainstorm how the City can best work cooperatively with businesses during the implementation of the ordinance and to provide feedback on the proposed ordinance language. Light refreshments will be provided.

Suzanne Schulz, the City’s managing director of planning and design, said while the City already incorporates many aspects of CPTED in its oversight of business and commercial areas, the proposed ordinance focuses on state-licensed facilities that sell controlled substances such as alcohol, tobacco and marijuana.

The new approach expands the City’s enforcement philosophy in four areas:

  • Natural access management – Physical guidance of people and vehicles
  • Natural surveillance – Maximize visibility and surveillance
  • Territorial reinforcement – Delineate space and express a positive sense of ownership
  • Physical maintenance and management – General upkeep of a building or area

During the community meetings, planning staff will detail a proposed approach that:

  • Consolidates CPTED-related requirements under a new police power ordinance that allows staff to address businesses that don’t follow the rules
  • Reconfigure the duties of planning staff so there is one point of contact for an inspector and  community officer
  • Proactively engage businesses in an education and awareness campaign that is part of a comprehensive implementation strategy

Schulz said her department arrived at these proposals after working with the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and hearing from the City’s corridor improvement districts.

“We are piloting a new, proactive approach to address safety and quality of life concerns that we have heard from the community,” Schulz said. “The long-term strategy is that, hopefully, we can begin to eliminate several requirements during the permitting process that the business community views as burdensome. We can do this by having better design and enforcement tools in hand for when issues arise.”

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