Residents told city leaders about 12 years ago what they wanted to see as Denton grew for the city’s first comprehensive plan. City leaders are seeking that feedback again to update the plan for the next 20 years.
Compared to 1999, the city has more ways to reach out to residents for feedback and also have more tools to prepare their reports for meetings and discussions, according to members of the city’s planning staff.
Economic modeling has improved, so city leaders can weigh the costs and benefits of certain projects, keeping those decisions from becoming “pie in the sky,” according to Brian Lockley, administrator in the city’s planning division.
Some of the city’s projections in 1999 for 2012 came close, given that no one had predicted the economic downturn and its impact over the past five years. In 1999, city leaders projected Denton would grow to 131,000 people living over 86 square miles by 2012. Currently, about 114,000 people live over about 94.9 square miles, with the land growth due to annexations the city completed last year, Lockley said.
Geographical information systems also have advanced in the last decade, allowing the city staff to prepare certain kinds of detailed reports.
“For example, we can look at retail versus population and see whether an area is under served,” Lockley said.
Resident feedback in 1999 led the city to draft both a master plan and an implementation plan for downtown. Discussions about the rail line were conceptual then, according to city spokesman John Cabrales. The Denton County Transportation Authority built its terminus for the A-train in downtown Denton, triggering related development. Transit-oriented development could be a part of the updated plan, Cabrales said.
However, city leaders wouldn’t want to study a region or neighborhood without getting feedback from residents first, Lockley said. For example, the southwest and northeast sides of Denton don’t have neighborhood grocery stores. But residents might not consider a neighborhood grocery as a priority over other needs.
To get the feedback they need, the city staff has already launched a website for outreach, dentonplan2030.com. Residents comfortable with communicating online can sign up for e-newsletters, or follow the plan’s progress on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Residents who prefer to communicate in person can participate in public events designed either to provide that feedback or as part of regular city meetings.
The topics covered by the plan don’t just include land use, Lockley said. The city also seeks feedback on community services, quality of life and economic and environmental issues.
The city will have an open house from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 9, at the Center for the Visual Arts, 400 E. Hickory St., to solicit feedback on the plan.
Residents can also attend regular meetings next week where the topic will be on the agenda, including a presentation from a planning consultant Monday, the City Council meeting Tuesday and the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday.
More information about those meetings is available on the city’s website, www.cityofdenton.com.
The city has already sent an e-mail blast to about a thousand addresses and has gotten some responses about the update, according to Abra Nusser, a senior planner in the planning division.
One resident was concerned that the e-mail was the only opportunity for interaction, Nusser said, but she relayed that the department will have three forums in the fall.
To avoid scheduling meetings that conflict with people’s schedules, the city will have events on three days in three separate locations, Nusser said.
The point is for residents to provide the vision, city spokeswoman Kiersten Dieterle said.
“It’s Denton-specific, and what people want their town to be like,” Dieterle said.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is email@example.com .