On Thursday, Denton city officials conducted the first of two meetings designed to update the public on the city’s comprehensive plan.
The meetings are to help residents learn more about the process before planners launch the first community forums next month.
“Not a lot of folks understand,” said Brian Lockley, city interim director of planning and development. “They may hear about it, but not understand how the plan is used by the city and how important it is to them.”
The meeting was led by Abra Nusser, senior city planner, who went through the steps the city will take to update the plan that includes using consultants, getting feedback from the public and drafting a document on which the City Council will have the final say.
The city has grown by 40 percent in population and by 3,000 acres in area since the last plan was drafted in 1999.
The updated plan will need to take into consideration the likely influx of 100,000 more people over the next 20 years, planning consultants have told city leaders.
In addition, planners also advised city officials that they should consider other important factors that were not on the radar in 1999: the rising enrollment at area colleges, the Downtown Denton Transit Center and the Barnett Shale natural gas boom.
A team of consultants, costing about $628,000, have been retained by the city to help with the plan’s update over the next 18 months.
During and since an open house on the plan last month, residents have begun providing city staff and planning consultants some feedback.
The feedback is published on a city website devoted to the update — www.Dentonplan2030.com.
There were about a dozen residents who attended the Thursday meeting, along with City Council member Jim Engelbrecht.
Questions included who will pay to implement the ideas in the plans, how much will city officials factor in residents’ needs and wants, whether the plan starts from scratch or is based on previous comprehensive plans and whether the makeup of the council could be different by the time the plan is ready to go before the council.
Nusser said a change in the council makeup could very well happen.
She also encouraged residents to join in the process by attending the community forums scheduled for Nov. 1-3, participating on the citizen action committee and/or becoming a Denton Plan Ambassador.
Ambassadors will serve as a liaison for neighborhoods to relay concerns to the citizen action committee to keep it from getting too large.
“We want a broad swath [of people], but not making it so big and ineffective,” she said. “The public is important to officials in Denton. It may not be in other cities, but it is here.”
The second meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Denton Civic Center, 312 E. McKinney St.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is email@example.com.