Managing Change and Greenspace in Ferndale New Developments

September 1, 2017

If you drive down Paxton or University Streets, you’ll notice that change is in the air—work has begun on one of the community’s newer development projects, Wilson Park Village, site of the former Wilson School. 

The development, a Robertson Brothers Homes project, will bring 28 new single-family homes to residential southeast Ferndale. The site plan was approved by the Ferndale Planning Commission in April of this year, following sale of the property by Ferndale Schools. 

As work on the new development begins in earnest and road, utility, and lot preparation gets underway, residents will begin to notice some clearing work being done on the property. It has many asking: What about the trees and landscaping? 

When undertaking a new development, it is often necessary to lose some existing greenery. However, Ferndale has strictly embraced a development process that considers all plant and tree life and maintains policies to ensure that the community’s tree canopy and greenspaces continue to grow, thrive, and evolve. 

The City and project development team have worked to reinvest in trees and landscaping on this project, including:

  • A commitment to preserve as many old-growth trees as possible, with the development team working closely under the direction of Councilman Greg Pawlica and with the City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) to replant three existing trees—including a germinated Ginkgo biloba tree. 
  • Upon completion, the development site will be required to have 74 new trees—healthy, well-branched deciduous Oaks, Lindens, London Planetrees, and Elms, planted according to a 20-point landscaping guideline. 
  • The 74 new trees far exceed the number of those lost during the property clearing process and are meant to ensure tree canopy, shading, and greenspace well into the neighborhood’s future. 
  • A minimum of 40% of each lot created in Wilson Park Village is required to be unpaved, permeable, open landspace.
  • Additionally, the site will benefit from a sustainability perspective with a series of new underground stormwater infrastructure improvements.

The investment in new tree growth as part of this development is just one example of the City’s commitment to the continued sustainability and development of greenspace. Mayor Coulter and Ferndale's City Council have made parks a top priority; the Parks and Recreation Committee (PARC) and Ferndale Parks Blue Ribbon Commission identified parks needs and provided direction for DPW to plant new landscaping and find innovative uses for existing greenspaces. Going forward, the City has a rigorous new five-year Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which outlines a variety of goals and initiatives to ensure City greenspace and tree cover now and into the future, including:

  • Continuation of the City’s current residential tree program—which surveys tree numbers, health, and needs—and expansion of the program into parks to enhance Ferndale’s urban tree canopy;
  • Continued reforestation and planned native naturalized landscaping projects;
  • Creation of nontraditional greenspaces, community gardens, pocket parks; and more.

For more information about the Wilson Park Village project, please contact the City’s Community and Economic Development Department at 248-336-4370. To learn more about the City’s existing and future parks and greenspace initiatives, view the 2017 Parks and Recreation Master Plan.


Kara Sokol

Communications Director