Community input part of Third Street effort

MARQUETTE – What Third Street might look like in a few years was the topic of discussion at the Tuesday meeting of the Marquette City Planning Commission.

The goals of the Third Street Corridor Sustainable Development Plan, the creation of which was headed by the downstate Birmingham-based Gibbs Planning Group, include creating interesting business facades and providing more transportation choices.

The commission decided Tuesday to initiate adoption of the plan and begin to integrate it into the city’s master plan.

Dennis Stachewicz, community development director, said the Third Street plan was developed through a charette process in which the community provided direct input and refined the plan, which was sent to the consultant.

“We as staff feel it is a very accurate representation of the community charette process that occurred,” Stachewicz said.

Planning commission Vice Chairman Steve Lawry questioned whether a good cross-section of the community was represented during the charette process.

“That process doesn’t bring in hundreds of people from the community,” Lawry said. “The process brought in people most affected by it.”

Stachewicz said the stakeholders were well represented and the consultant also visited every business on Third Street.

Lawry did acknowledge the public and the consultant deserved credit for crafting the plan, with the Third Street community telling the consultant what it wanted for the corridor.

“I find that impressive because I’ve not seen it to that degree before,” Lawry said.

Stachewicz said the commission, when looking through the plan, should consider what the community wanted, which was incorporated into the draft.

Accessibility was one thing mentioned, he said.

“One of the things that was noted was power doors that automatically open, or doorbells on businesses,” he said.

Plans for details such as more on-street parking and bike lanes could move forward without a public hearing, he said, but items related to private-sector zoning would need a hearing.

The draft plan indicated more small parking lots are needed as some business owners said parking is an issue.

“As a result, Third Street is gradually transitioning from a walkable neighborhood shopping district into a suburban-like shopping center comprised of free standing businesses, disjointed from each other and the surrounding neighborhoods,” the report states. “Eventually, this may lead to less walking and more driving, increasing the need for more parking lots and resulting in a loss of the corridor’s unique walkable appeal.”

The Third Street corridor, also known as the Village, has about 18,500 square feet of commercial space that includes restaurants, a grocery and retail and service establishments.

Unusual facades were mentioned in the draft plan as a way to improve Third Street, including, for example, a giant hockey stick and puck on a current sports-related business.

Commissioner Taylor Klipp, while calling the draft “a solid business plan,” expressed concern over the 3-D signs, such as a giant bagel and faucet, and how such features would be governed through an ordinance.

“That can get out of hand pretty easily,” Klipp said.

Stachewicz said: “That’s a unique balancing act that would have to be considered.”

Commissioner Brett Beranek also backed the plan’s general concept.

“I don’t know how long it will take to get this way, but I would enjoy a Third Street that looks like that,” Beranek said.

Other amenities included in the draft plan were parklets, planters, outdoor dining areas and bike corrals.

“I think the park next to Frosty Treats and Main Street Pizza was a great idea,” Beranek said.

The plan is available for public view on the city website at

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.