Urgent Request for Participation at Upcoming City Open Feedback Meetings

Urgent Request for Participation at Upcoming City Meetings:

  • Lakefront Property Owners Open House
    • Tuesday, January 16, 6:30 – 8 PM at the Lake Center Elementary School
  • Lake Center District Commercial Corridor Rezoning Open House
    • Monday, January 22, 6:30 – 8 PM at the Lake Center Elementary School,
  • Master Plan Draft Land Use Map Open House (MOST IMPORTANT)
    • Tuesday, January 30 from 5:30pm to 8:00 pm at the Portage Zhang Senior Center

Community Involvement in these meetings is critical in order to ensure our voices continue to be heard regarding these very important topics.  This is our opportunity to help set the tone for projects moving into 2024.  Please come, bring your family, bring your neighbors, bring anyone who can help AMPLIFY our voices. Here are further details regarding these must attend meetings.

Lakefront Property Owners Open House

On Tuesday, January 16, 6:30 – 8 PM at the Lake Center Elementary School, the City of Portage invites people who actually live on lakefront property to a meeting for a process geared specifically toward zoning and code challenges to major house improvements like an addition, storage buildings, garage replacement, or teardowns. Providing specific relief to land use challenges for single-family residences in lake neighborhoods is a stated City Council priority for Fiscal Year 2023-2024.  People can visit with city staff, have an open dialogue about lakefront home reinvestment challenges you would like to see addressed. A postcard with a Lakefront Property Housing Codes Survey link and QR code was mailed to lakefront property owners in late December. The survey will also be available at the open house. Staff will utilize input from the open house and the survey, combined with a review of researched data, to identify and propose solutions and potential changes to city ordinances and/or policies. There will be ongoing opportunities for public input, ensuring that the community remains actively involved in shaping future home building and remodeling on the lakefront.

Lake Center District Commercial Corridor Rezoning Open House

This is a rezoning initiative for the Portage Road Commercial Corridor (not for residential neighborhoods behind Portage Road).   On Monday, January 22, 6:30 – 8 PM at the Lake Center Elementary School, the city is advancing its efforts to implement the Lake Center District Corridor & Placemaking Plan, which was adopted by the Portage City Council on July 13, 2021. The goal of this rezoning project is to promote a revitalized, more walkable, mixed-use commercial district with a focal point being the section of Portage Road nearest the convergence of West Lake and Austin Lake, commonly referred to in the plan as the “Isthmus.” The City will be using McKenna Associates, a Michigan based planning firm with an office in Kalamazoo, to assist in recrafting the commercial corridor zoning on Portage Road from Centre Street to Osterhout, along the lines laid out in the Lake Center Corridor Plan.  The proposed rezoning for the Portage Road commercial corridor aims to promote commercial reinvestment, diversify uses and building types, and enhance connectivity with the public space. With resident and community input, the goals of the corridor plan for Portage Road properties can be realized in part by updating the zoning code applied to those properties. The Lake Center District Commercial Corridor Rezoning Open House will kick off the rezoning process. The open house will include an overview of general zoning strategies that might be incorporated (like form based code) and an opportunity for feedback from those who attend. The rezoning process is expected to continue over the next six months and will have additional opportunities for public input.

Master Plan Draft Land Use Map Open House

One of the most important to the whole City is the open house specifically to get public input on a draft of an updated future land use map.  The meeting will be held on January 30 from 5:30pm to 8:00 pm at the Portage Zhang Senior Center.  It is in the form of an open house so you can come anytime during the open house to provide input.    The future land use map is a key part of every Master Plan as it provides the long-term geographically based guide for future development patterns felt to be desirable for the community.   This is a special meeting added to the Master Plan process to be sure there is a focused opportunity to review this initial draft map as the master plan update proceeds.  There will be future public meetings of the Planning Commission, including formal public hearings and a lengthy state mandated public review period on the whole document before the final updated plan can be approved.

Important Task Force Updates:

The final set of answers to the questions provided by the Task Force were published between New Year’s and Christmas. Here is the link:  Lake Center Housing Task Force | Portage, MI (portagemi.gov). This was the final iteration of the Task Force.


At the last meeting and also discussed at the last Council meeting in December, with regard to the Woodbine/Stanley project, City staff has restarted work.  The first step will be to get an agreement on the tasks of the Council approved development partner, AVB, with a development agreement to be presented to Council.   We also discussed how the City is taking a fresh look at what to propose for the housing units.  Our parameters (as noted in one of the answers to questions) will be no more than 50 single family occupied for-sale homes on lots averaging 6500 sq ft for the whole development and no less than 60 feet lot width.     The City’s commitment is to also hold a meeting (or meetings) with the neighborhood surrounding the City owned property between Woodbine & Stanley to obtain feedback and input on the next concept BEFORE it is formally submitted through the development approval process.

Austin Landings

This project was withdrawn and there has been no further activity on this.   As mentioned at the Task Force, the developer is now required under the new City Council adopted Public Participation Policy to set up a neighborhood meeting before submitting another application to the City.  This is intended to give the affected neighbors the opportunity to share ideas and help shape a potential development on that site north of East Shore Drive between Highland and Sprinkle.