Gardner’s future isn’t determined, but city council members got a first glance of a proposed comprehensive plan that lays out a road map for the community’s future.
Over the course of a year, consultant Dan Gardner and a team of consultants met with city staff, a community steering committee, local business owners and members of the faith community to develop a rough draft of the comprehensive plan.
The plan includes a broad overview of how the city may develop in the next 10-20 years.
“(The plan) needs to be appealing and available and easy-to-use for several different audiences,” Gardner told members of the city council during an Aug. 18 work session.
The plan suggests emphasizing development in areas that already have infrastructure and those within the existing core of the community.
“It needs to be a living breathing document… that helps inform community decisions as the community moves forward,” Gardner said.
There are lot of traditional things that create a sense of community in Gardner, he said.
“Gardner has some great character, identity and history to build off of,” Gardner said. “There’s a strong history that tells a story and shouldn’t be lost. That’s my own personal opinion. You certainly don’t want to lose the identity you do have.”
The plan includes recommendations for updates to city policy. For example, the plan suggests reaching annexation agreements between the city of Gardner and neighboring municipalities like Edgerton and Spring Hill.
Council member Steve Shute said the city should “aggressively pursue annexation of those priority areas as well as the islands in the city limits.”
“One of the things we need to look at is we’re required to be able to service those areas,” city administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee said. “We need to look at our infrastructure and make sure we can service those areas.” Traditionally, property owners adjacent to city limits request to be annexed into a municipality.
Right now, there is litle incentive to property owners just outside of Gardner to be annexed into the city.
“This comes down to the property owner. If I’m a property owner and I’m in the county, I’m not going to annex my land until I absoluetly have to… until there’s some benefit to me doing it,” Council member Kristina Harrison said. “How do we get ahead of that?”
Harrison-Lee said the value of land improves when water, sewer and transportation are available.
“The carrot becomes is that land is development ready,” Harrison-Lee said. “When it’s ready, I think we are in a stronger position to have them come into our city as opposed to having them go to another city.”
Council members will consider adopting the comprehensive plan during a September council meeting.