Amy Cunningham
What will the city of Gardner look like five, 10 or 20 years from now?
Planning Commissioners met Aug. 23 in a brainstorming session to begin the process of updating the community development plan that will help shape Gardner’s future.
Amy Kynard, city planner, told the group that state statute requires cities to review plans annually and update them every five years.
City staff maintains that funds are not available to hire a consultant to analyze and update the current plan. Instead they plan to work with the commission to make changes to the existing plan.
“I would say (the current plan) is still relevant, but if there are parts that aren’t relevant…maybe we could modify that part of the plan,” Commissioner Greg Goodwin said.
Kynard posed six questions to commissioners to think about while considering what areas need to be updated: What are the (current) plan’s strengths and weaknesses?; Is the plan still relevant?; What should the group consider adding, deleting or changing?; What are the biggest issues facing Gardner today and how should those issues be addressed?; Should the commission reevaluate its implementation strategy and, if so, how; what areas (or goals/strategies) do commissioners like or dislike in other cities, and what do they like/dislike about them? Are any of those characteristics present in Gardner and/or should they be?
Kynard said that many factors will play a role in the formation of the new plan. She said planners should be mindful of the city’s new mission and vision statements and values guides when forming their plans.
The city also adopted architectural design requirements in 2010 that will come into play in future development.
Several planned developments in the area will also influence the updated comprehensive plan. Kynard also pointed to the intermodal facility and logistics park, now annexed into the city of Edgerton, and stressed the importance of working with that city to come up with solutions that would be mutually beneficial. Kynard said plans have to be considered for future development along the east side of I-35 north of 191st Street.
Rezoning may need to be considered for possible business parks and mixed-use developments that are in conflict with current plans.
Finally, Kynard pointed to several plans that are already in place which may be factored in. One such plan, the U.S. 56 Highway Corridor Management Plan, governs how traffic will be handled along the highway, also known as Main Street in Gardner.
Another issue the group must look at is the priority growth map which shows areas already serviced by water and wastewater versus areas where service is planned.
Commissioner Dan Popp wondered where the group should begin.
“It’s the chicken or the egg thing,” he said. “Do they react to us or do we react to them? My assumption is …that staff directs development to (an area) and then wastewater management does their stuff based on the comprehensive plan.”
The group agreed that community members must be involved in completing the work on the plan.
“I think community involvement is a must for our next comprehensive plan revision,” Popp said.
Commissioners plan to revisit the community development plan at their upcoming meetings.