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City planners back Cherry Avenue document

The future of Cherry Avenue and the Fifeville neighborhood is a little clearer.

The city Planning Commission recommended the Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan be incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan following a public hearing on Tuesday.

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission crafted the plan, which includes recommendations for pedestrian improvements, economic development and facilitating affordable housing.

The plan focuses on bringing mixed-use development to the area and maintaining a neighborhood feel of Fifeville, with improvements such as a grocery store or farmers market.

TJPDC last discussed the plan with the commission in February. The plan reviewed Tuesday was largely the same as that document.

The corridor from Ridge Street to Roosevelt Brown Boulevard was identified in the city’s 2013 Comprehensive Plan as a target for a SAP, which will set out methods for addressing housing, transportation, infrastructure and environmental needs. The city Planning Commission designated the area for the next planning initiative in 2016 after an effort by the Fifeville Neighborhood Association.

The area was chosen because of increased commuter traffic, large approved developments and a stock of vacant lots.

TJPDC conducted dozens of community meetings to gather input while crafting the plan.

“This is the type of planning I enjoy hearing and participating in because it comes from our citizens,” said Commissioner Taneia Dowell. “This is how we prevent gentrification and this is how we create a city we are proud of.”

About 3,800 people live in the study area and 56% of residents are African American, according to the plan. The plan says that the median income is $36,400. The U.S. Census Bureau shows the Orangedale-Prospect Avenue area, which is part of the study, has a median income of about $31,000, which is one of the lowest in the city.

The study area is bounded by 5th Street, Elliot Avenue, along housing units south of Forest Hills Park and a railroad on the west.

Residents wanted to see preservation of existing housing, affordable housing, an affordable grocery store, a farmer’s market, restaurants and a lowered speed limit.

Those who provided feedback opposed large apartment buildings, a low-quality grocery store, hotels, parking garages and chain restaurants.

The draft plan includes several recommendations across different categories. They include murals and public art, opportunity zones for business and protecting historic homes. The commission discussed several technical changes to the plan during Tuesday’s meeting and requested that the document address the need for affordable housing and minimizing displacement.

Several residents spoke during a public hearing prior to the vote and said the plan ensures the future of the neighborhood. Nancy O’Brien said it “doesn’t solve all the problems” but it does “give a good, community-driven basis of values that we want taken into consideration as the future evolves.”

Brooke Hefner said it provides assurances to residents.

“Having witnessed around us hotels and a rental property for students who aren’t going to spend very many years here, it’s important that our community has some say in its own future,” he said.

The plan will next go to City Council for a vote on its inclusion in the Comprehensive Plan.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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