Plan Ferndale: City Master Land Use Plan Update (2021-2022)

You have the power to make change. Share your insights to help make progressive changes to Ferndale's City Master Plan.

The Master Plan is a guidebook for Ferndale’s decision-makers based on the community’s unified vision of the future of our city. The Master Plan provides actionable steps and helps officials decide how to direct city funding, what initiatives to take on and tangible goals and milestones for the next 5 years.

This update is 3-fold. We will be revisiting and creating: 

Master Land Use Plan:

This plan covers rules around what can be built where and how. We will be working to equitably reflect current and future land use, economic development, accessibility and housing needs within the community.

Parks & Recreation Master Plan:

In updating this plan, we will be working to understand our community’s needs to improve accessibility, equity and programming. We will be working to ensure there are implementable plans that will ensure spatial equity.

Climate Action Plan (CAP)

This will be Ferndale’s first iteration of an Integrated Climate Action Plan. We will be exploring with our community how we can create resiliency within our neighborhoods to extreme weather events, a global health crisis, curb our carbon emissions, and become a regional leader in sustainability.

To do all this, we need to hear pain points, ideas and insights from our community to get involved in discussions with us to ensure that your vision is reflected in the updates made in our plan.

How to get involved: 

  • Sign up for our mailing list for updates, events & more. Keep me in the loop.
  • Discuss ideas, concerns and inspiration on our discussion board. Coming soon.
  • Join a virtual Plan Ferndale event. Coming soon.
  • Join a virtual Plan Ferndale Small Group Discussion. Sign me up!
  • Request to have a Ferndale representative come facilitate a Plan Ferndale Discussion within your organization or group. Let's do it!
  • Take our Plan Ferndale Online Survey. Coming soon.

Thank you in advance for your time and input. You matter. You belong here.

Upcoming Events:

Join us for a 2-day interactive virtual summit where we will be exploring the vision of our city, together. Participate in three (3) Virtual Community Summit sessions on October 26th and 27th. RSVP below (note there are separate RSVP links for each session) and be sure to share with your friends and neighbors. In case you cannot attend, these sessions will be recorded and posted online at a later date.

  • October 26, 2021 (6pm-8pm) - Plan Ferndale Virtual Summit - "Unpacking Development" session (RSVP on Eventbrite
  • October 27, 2021 (3pm-5pm) - Plan Ferndale Virtual Summit - "Equitable Open Space" session (RSVP on Eventbrite)
  • October 27, 2021 (6pm-8pm) - Plan Ferndale Virtual Summit - "Climate & Resiliency" session (RSVP on Eventbrite

Past Events:

Mobile Input Sessions:

We are looking for community and neighborhood groups interested in participating in the Plan Ferndale process. Please fill out the following form if you would like to request an engagement session in October or November. In addition to these requests, the Steering Committee will schedule virtual sessions open to any participants for sign up. Check back soon for those dates. Or sign up for our email list to stay updated.

Two ways for us to engage with your group:

Information Presentation

A member of the Steering Committee will present to your organization about the Master Plan update process during an upcoming meeting, share input opportunities, and answer questions (15 minutes).

Click here to request a session.

Small Group Conversation

A Plan Ferndale facilitator will lead a small group (no more than 10) through a priority exercise and discussion around topics pertaining to Ferndale’s future (1.5-2 hours)

Click here to request a session.

What we're up to:

We are currently working on the overall vision of the future of Ferndale with community members, city staff and urban planning experts to lay the foundation of the plan updates.

We are creating space and opportunity for the Ferndale community to provide input and to participate in strategic discussions to create a community-driven plan.

Ready to get involved? We don’t bite.


Where we've been:

This past summer, we built out a team of urban planning experts to guide this process.

On Monday, June 28, 2021, City Council approved the contract with SmithGroup for consulting services to assist in the community's Master Plan update. SmithGroup was recommended by the Steering Committee after a competitive request for proposals process and review of applications. To review the City Council agenda item, please visit https://www.ferndalemi.gov/council-meetings (click 'Agenda' next to the City Council meeting and review item 8B). A recording of that meeting is also available.


This isn't our first rodeo.

The City of Ferndale adopted the Ferndale Master Plan and the Parks and Recreation Master Plan in 2017, which set a “common vision for the City” with sustainability as a key theme integrated throughout the plan. The plan guided Ferndale’s strategic efforts over the past four years in key areas such as land use; housing and neighborhoods; economic vitality; recreation and open space; transportation and mobility; and city services, facilities, and infrastructure. The planning process established an open, online two-way dialogue between the city and its residents.

To review the existing Master Plan and Parks and Recreation Plan, click the links below:

Previous Plan Accomplishments

See a list of previous accomplishments below. Note this isn't an exhaustive list, but gives a feel for the type of action items associated with each plan.

Master Land Use Plan
  • $800,000+ in mobility grants between 2017 - 2021
  • Hired Environmental Sustainability Planner (2017)
  • Design and mixed use-based ordinance amendments (Central Business District, Mixed Use, Industrial) (2017-2019)
  • Tree replacement and bike/electric vehicle charging station ordinances amendments (2018-2019)
  • LED Street Light Conversion (2019)
  • Downtown Waste Management Plan and Increase Recycling Options (2019-2020)
  • Updated Ferndale Moves Mobility Plan (2020-2021) 
  • Small business support through BUILD Workshops and Open in Ferndale programs (2018-2021)
Parks and Recreation Plan
  • Developed Master Design Plans for parks
  • $800,000+ grant funding between 2017 - 2021
  • Martin Road Park walking paths, designed play structures, and site amenities
  • Harding Park walking paths, universally designed play structure, and field renovations
  • Geary Park skatepark, bioswale, and walking paths
  • Schiffer Park renovation
  • PaRC Board subcommittees and community park planning
  • New programming - Gravity Art Fair & Skate Contest, Drive-In Movies, and increased recreation participation

This graphic shows the connection between all three plans, with definitions and focus areas of each plan.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance? A Master Plan establishes policy to direct the City and recommends review of and possible amendments to zoning regulations. The Master Plan is not the law and does not itself change zoning regulations. It provides direction for the future, whereas the Zoning Ordinance regulates the current use of land.
  • How often are communities in Michigan required to update their Master Plan? The Michigan Zoning Enabling Act requires local units of government to update their Master Plans every 5 years. An update to the Parks & Recreation Master Plan every 5 years is also required by the State of Michigan in order to be eligible for recreation grants.
  • When was the last Master Plan and Parks and Recreation Plan adopted? The majority of the work on the Ferndale Master Plan and Parks & Recreation Master Plan was completed in 2016 and the plan was adopted by City Council in January 2017. Therefore, the Master Plans are required to be updated in 2021-2022.
  • Why are the Parks and Recreation Plan and Climate Action Plan part of the overall Master Plan process? Parks and Recreation and Climate Action have direct ties to land use, planning, zoning, and sustainability policy and help guide the City's vision and action items. The previous 2017 Master Plan included an update to the Parks and Recreation and included environmental sustainability throughout the plan. An update to the Parks and Recreation plan helps the City qualify for future grant opportunities and directs future park improvements. Creation a Climate Action Plan aligns with the City Council Strategic Plan and Climate Mayor's Agreement.
  • How long will the Master Plan process take? The general estimate is a 12-14 month long process from City Council approval of a consultant to assist in the process to City Council adoption of the plan.
  • What is the role of the Steering Committee? A Steering Committee of staff, board & commissioner representatives, and residents will help guide the overall process. The steering committee does not have more authority than other community members or ability to adopt the Master Plan, but will help ensure the process is inclusive. The proposed steering committee includes 12-14 community members, as well as 10-12 staff members. The steering committee would assist City staff by: - Participating in a meeting to review proposals by potential consultants to assist in creating the plan. - Provide feedback throughout the process, including plan goals, draft plans, and community engagement strategies. - Share updates at their respective Board or Commission as a liaison for the steering committee. - Share opportunities for friends, family, neighbors, and community members to participate.
  • How were board and commissioner representatives selected to participate in the Steering Committee? The Master Land Use Plan, Parks and Recreation Plan, and Climate Action Plan will include goals and recommendations related to planning, land use, zoning, parks and recreation, housing, and sustainability. Members from boards and commissions that direct policy for those categories, such as the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Environmental Sustainability Commission, etc. were invited to self-select volunteers for the steering committee.
  • How were the other Steering Committee members selected? The City received applications for two residents (age 18-54) and one senior resident (age 55+) and notified randomly selected applicants during the week of May 3, 2021. To view a video of the random selection process, click HERE. The City received applications for one (1) youth resident (age 9-18) and randomly selected that applicant to participate on the Steering Committee during the week of May 24, 2021.
  • What are the age requirements for the youth resident on the Steering Committee? The City is currently accepting applications for one (1) youth resident (age 9-18) to participate on the Steering Committee.
  • If I am not on the Steering Committee, how can I participate in the Master Plan process? The Master Plan is a community-driven plan that will be inclusive and have many opportunities for plan creation, input and feedback.  Sign up for email updates regarding upcoming meetings and participation opportunities here: https://ferndalemi.seamlessdocs.com/f/mlupemail.
  • When does the City expect community engagement to begin for the Master Plan? September 15, 2021 - Joint City Council and Planning Commission Meeting; October 2021 - Community Engagement Summit (More details coming soon!) See anticipated engagement schedule below.

Contact us

Master Land Use Plan & Climate Action Plan
Parks & Recreation Master Plan