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Team develops plan for Pilot Point

Profile image for By John D. Harden / Staff Writer
By John D. Harden / Staff Writer

PILOT POINT — A team of city planning experts told officials and residents Monday that the city’s comprehensive plan is obsolete and that the city lacks a clear vision for its future.

The No. 1 question the team recommended that city leaders and residents answer in the next couple of months is what they want Pilot Point to look like in 30 to 50 years.

During the conclusion of a five-day planning event held at Pilot Point High School, the team presented a detailed report to help city leaders develop their vision.

In spring 2012, a city-appointed planning committee submitted an application to the American Institute of Architects and received a grant to receive assistance from an award-winning volunteer project team of the AIA.

The team, led by Todd Scott, recommended that city officials should work on developing a vision for the city within the next four to six months.

“I think it was what we all needed to hear,” said Joyce Duesman, chairwoman of the committee that applied for the grant.

The team told city leaders that they should focus on what the community wants.

“There wasn’t anything that they told us that was surprising,” City Planning Director Scott Ingalls said. “But the way they laid everything out for us allowed us to see how we need to prioritize in the future.”

Areas the eight-member team addressed in the presentation included land use, historic preservation, design standards, economic development, downtown revitalization and parks and recreation.

Ingalls said the experts touched on things that are 20 years away from developing, but they also presented goals the city can achieve within the next six months to a year.

“They really convinced us that some of our priorities should be shifted,” Ingalls said. “Some of the goals I had on the bottom of my list will probably be moved to the top.”

The team spent Thursday through Saturday in Pilot Point, meeting with officials and residents to analyze the city’s strengths and weaknesses.

“It is indeed a very complete report in such a small amount of time,” Duesman said. “It just shows the level of expertise and experience that this team brought.”

Officials sought help from outside experts because community leaders said they feared the city’s future growth would be negatively affected without a plan.

One weak point noted by the team is that the city’s comprehensive plan, which was written in 2004, is out of date.

In the team’s report, it states that the city only has partial control of its destiny because of three pending residential communities in its extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ.

The city cannot collect sales or property taxes on the properties for at least 15 years after they are completed, according to agreements between the city and the residential developers.

The planning experts said that without the ability to collect taxes on these properties, the city will miss out on a large revenue stream that would help sustain the city’s growth.

The comprehensive plan envisions that the city’s population will increase naturally over time, but not at the rate expected to result from the developments in the city’s ETJ.

Mayor Greg Hollar predicts the developments could increase the region’s area by more than 60,000 people.

“Development is a decade or two away, but that’s still a lot of people in a short amount of time,” he said.

The experts recommended that city leaders be more aggressive when making deals with landowners seeking to develop residential communities to make sure both parties can benefit.

In its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, the council will discuss actions needed to build a vision for the city and how much it will cost to get the first few projects started.

“There will be a lot of meetings among the various city boards and committees,” Ingalls said. “A lot of discussions will need to take place to make sure we’re all on the same page while setting out priorities.”

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is .