Parkview Hills blossomed from the unique partnership of the late Dr. H. Lewis Batts, Jr., educator and ecologist, and the late Burton H. Upjohn, businessman. Dr. Batts’ vision became reality because of Mr. Upjohn’s financial planning. Dr. Batts’ environmental expertise merged with Mr. Upjohn’s commitment to residents’ needs, resulting in a truly harmonious community.
The partners worked with the city of Kalamazoo to formulate the dynamic Planned Unit Development ordinance to create new flexibility in land use. Their forward-looking ideas for “clustering” buildings increased useable open space and amenities for everyone. They acquired some 288 acres of rolling, glaciated land within the city limits with one navigable stream, one intermittent stream, two small lakes (Lime Kiln and Hill ‘N’ Brook), open marshland, old farm fields, some mature Oak-Hickory sub-climax forest, and scattered young Cherry, Aspen, Sassafras and various native and escaped shrubs. A third and fourth lake (Willow and Cherry Creek) were restored and the intermittent stream dammed to encourage ground water re-charge and to reduce surface water run-off. The purpose is to capture water to fortify re-charge capabilities and provide more water-related amenities for residents.
Streets were planned carefully to mesh with land contours and tree locations. Native trees are being planted continually to create “mass” and often constructed elements. There are many more trees at Parkview Hills now than there were when the partners embarked on their imaginative venture. Dr. Batts and Mr. Upjohn forged covenants that set aside more than 100 acres as open space, encompassing at least 20 feet around all marshlands and waterways, and insured the preservation of the natural environment. Although the PUD ordinance permitted 900 residential units, the partners opted for even lower density with a cap of 850.
It is not customary for developers to stay involved personally for the long-term in a community they build. The Batts-Upjohn team departed from that cynical tenet as long ago as the ground breaking, June 5, 1970. Representing the partnership, Mr. Upjohn served actively on the board of the Parkview Hills Community Association and happily made his home here for many years. Together these gentlemen set the highest standard of land-use planning and environmental concern for us to emulate and continue within our urban setting.