Election Candidates 2023
Speak Up Portage reached out to each candidate that is running for election on November 7th, 2023. We asked 3 questions that are of concern to our group. The questions are:
- What is your opinion of releasing detailed financial disclosure for capital projects prior to final approval of the city council? What does this disclosure look like?
- What role should Planned Development and High Density housing play in the City of Portage?
- What limits, if any, would you suggest regarding Planned Development and High Density housing?
We received responses from both Mayoral Candidates: Patricia Randall, Lisa Brayton
We received responses from only two City Council Candidates: Nicole Miller, Steve Pieczko
The candidates responses to the three questions are listed under their name.
Name: Patricia M. Randall
- We are already releasing all detailed financial information on Capital Improvement Projects on our city website. This information can be found at Archive Center. Portage, MI. CivicEngage(civic plus.com). The city manager’s office is happy to help navigate, if trouble using this site. Our CIP is discussed at our annual budget meeting workshop, which is open to the public. Our budget cycle is from July 1 to June 30, so the meetings are in mid April. Our forecast period extends to six years and are subject to change. Some may prove to be too costly and the city and public needs may change over time.
- Planned Developments have played a significant role in the growth of Portage over the past 54 years. Our first PD was in 1977 in Woodbridge Hills which has 1417 units. Today the taxable value of this PD is $131 million. Total tax revenue is $6.5 million of which $1.4 million stays in the City of Portage. Over the years 18 Planned Developments have been approved; 9 completed, 6 under construction and 4 approved but not started. As the cycle of life turns, people desire and need different housing options. I believe that planned developments can allow people of all ages to live in our community.
- Planned Developments and High Density Housing does have a place in Portage as we have seen with successful prior developments throughout our community. I believe in private property rights and neighbors’ rights to voice concern, as we saw in the recent Austin Landings site. Finding the balance is sometimes difficult, but the city is trying to be fully transparent in the process as we have recently added the A-Z disclosure of all plans from conception to completion. No matter where people live in our community, many consider it the best place to be. People take pride in their homes and neighborhoods. All want a voice in proposed change and I get that. Citizens first. Always.
Lisa Brayton – Write In Candidate
Website: LisaBrayton.com / Facebook: https://Facebook.com/LisaBrayton4Portage
- I feel wholeheartedly that complete financial disclosure for capital projects should be 100% disclosed prior to City Council meetings.
- Planned Development and High-Density housing can play a role in our community. It needs to be a priority to be responsible and listen to our citizens when planning in their neighborhoods. Period!
- Limitation on Planned Development and High-Density housing need to correspond with the neighboring developments and meet the needs of all citizens including the ones that are directly affected by such developments.
City Council Candidates
Name: Nicole Miller
- I’m going to answer this question to the best of my ability but do want citizens to know that I’m not 100% sure of the limitations of the office of City Council and won’t know those until I’m able to serve. I believe that there should be transparency when using taxpayer dollars for projects. As much as is possible these should be disclosed prior to a project being approved, as well as during the project should things change.
- If a city is not growing, it is most likely dying, and I know none of us would like to see that. Planned Development is one way that we can continue to grow the City of Portage when the current outdated zoning codes are not flexible enough to allow for modern development, however, it isn’t the only way to grow. Changing zoning and increasing density needs to be considered from many factors before a project can be approved. Past Planned Development projects in the city have had great success and support of citizens (such as Woodbridge Hills).
- What limits, if any, would you suggest regarding Planned Development and High Density housing? High Density housing can happen in locations where it makes sense and in a responsible manner taking into consideration the neighboring communities and natural environments. Planned Development zoning seems to have become a default option for many new projects. I’m thinking that it might be time to consider looking at revamping the current zoning codes so that Planned Development doesn’t have to be used as a “catch-all” zoning option.
Candidate: Steve Pieczko
Campaign Website: https://stevepieczko.com/ or http://PickSteve.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61550210786200
- I strongly support the idea of increasing transparency on projects in the planning phase which includes sharing details of how each project will be funded and if any taxpayer dollars will be needed to fund the project. I believe that Portage residents deserve a much deeper view into how capital improvement projects are funded, before they are presented to the Planning Commission, which allows the residents more time to digest and react to the projects.
- In my opinion, Planned Development and High Density housing does not belong in Portage.
- In recent years, Portage has significantly accelerated the amount of Planned Development (PD) housing projects to address a perceived housing shortage issue. PD projects allow the builder to squeeze in a higher density of houses than what you would find with traditional residential zoning. This higher density changes the aesthetics of Portage by increasing the urbanization feeling of Portage to be more like a city. I oppose the urbanization of Portage and I believe that Planned Development projects should only be considered when the majority of the surrounding neighbors have agreed with the plan.