Development with Us

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Development with Us (DwUs) is a pilot program designed to facilitate meaningful engagement between residents, neighborhood associations, and developers.

Some types of development projects, depending on their location, have more potential to impact a neighborhood than others. Development with Us (DwUs) is a pilot program created by City staff, representatives of the Urban Core Collective (UCC), neighborhood associations, and residents, to improve awareness, engagement, and empowerment of residents for these projects, where applicable.

This innovative program includes enhanced mailings, signage, use of social media, neighborhood meetings, and other engagement techniques to ensure that residents are aware of proposed projects in their neighborhood. It also helps residents identify opportunities to share feedback and engage in the approval process.

Current Projects

See a list of current projects participating in DwUs.

View Projects

Development projects within the City of Grand Rapids are approved by following one of two pathways depicted below. DwUs is an enhancement to these processes by providing additional opportunities for resident engagement. The DwUs process is highlighted in orange in the graphic below.

  • Pathway #1: Planning Commission Public Hearing Required
  • Pathway #2: Allowed By Right

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Depending upon the type of project and how early you get involved, you potentially can have a significant impact. Generally, there are more opportunities for you to comment on large projects and ones including activities that may impact the neighborhood. Also, the developer and the City have more flexibility to respond to ideas and concerns earlier in the design phase. Explaining the thinking behind your comments will give them more weight, as will explaining how they are related to City requirements like the Zoning Ordinance.

If an application has been received for a specific location, the City’s Application Mapping System is a great resource to view the project description and key details online.

Looking for more information? The table below indicates who the best resource to contact is based on the status of the project.

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For a DwUs participating project, a detailed letter describing the project and opportunities for engagement is mailed to nearby neighbors. For the roughly 10% of projects that require a formal public hearing (meeting) before the Planning Commission or other decision-making body, a postcard notice is mailed to nearby neighbors. Anyone can sign up for location-focused email notifications through the City’s application mapping system (Buildingeye) and for general agenda email notifications through the City’s public meeting portal.

You can provide input directly to the developer or owner for any project. For a DwUs participating project, you can comment online, through social media, by calling 311, or at the neighborhood meeting. For any project that requires a public hearing (meeting), you can submit written comments, speak with a Planner by calling 616-456-4100, or speak at the public hearing.


Individuals and groups who are interested in, or affected by, a decision or activity.

Neighborhood Association

A recognized organization located in and serving residents from a small geographic area of the city, which also serves as a liaison between residents and city government.

Public Hearing

A formal meeting for receiving public comment before a decision is made by a public board or commission.

By Right

Approved after staff review confirms compliance with standard City requirements.


The practice of designating specific areas (zones) within a community, the activities allowed within those areas, and the processes by which those activities may be approved.

Master Plan

A detailed, 20-year vision for a community.

Review Standards

The criteria by which a project proposal is evaluated.

Special Land Use

An activity that requires pre-approval by the Planning Commission.


A deviation from standard zoning requirements granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals based upon unique circumstances related to the property.