PILOT POINT – Council members agreed to move forward with developing a new city comprehensive plan, following the advice of an expert team of consultants that told them the current plan was out-of-date.
During a Monday night council meeting, council members instructed city staff to begin drafting a plan and reviewing ordinances that may be amended as a result of adopting a new plan.
But first, city staff will craft a vision statement that officials determine how the city develops.
“The first step will be a visioning process to gather additional input from the community and will result in a vision statement for the community, Planning Director Scott Ingalls said.
Ingalls said preparing a vision for the community is the cornerstone of the comprehensive plan.
Earlier this month, a team of city-planning experts told city officials that lack a clear vision for growth.
The team told Pilot Point leaders that they should begin developing a vision within four to six months.
The eight-person team spent five days in Pilot Point studying the city’s land use plan, historic preservation efforts, design standards, economic development and downtown revitalization.
The team worked with city officials for free because of a grant the city applied for and received in 2012.
“We developed the outline as a team, listening to hundreds of stakeholders in the community, trying to distill the issues as much as possible. [We then reconvened] as a group to talk through the issues and determine the best solutions,” said Todd Scott, team leader and a Seattle-based architect.
It’s not common for rural cities to have a vision for development and growth, but the most successful ones often do, Scott said.
The team members also received input from city leaders and residents during a couple of community meetings 87-page report for the city.
“I was excited to have the report from the team,” City Manager Tom Adams said. “Many of the issues are not new, but having a significant public involvement in the discussion is.”
The report will help guide workshops and set priorities for the future, he said.
“We know growth is coming, but how do we hold on to the things we really enjoy?” Adams said, “That is our challenge, and the ideas get us started down that road.”
One weak point noted in the report by the team is that the city’s comprehensive plan, which was written in 2004, is out of date.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 the plan doesn’t not consider how three pending residential communities in the extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, will affect development and growth.
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 current comprehensive plan reflects a slower population growth rate than what’s expected to occur after the residential developments begin to grow.
After a vision has been finalized work will begin on the rest of the comprehensive plan, Ingalls said.
Soon council members will prepare proposals for consulting from strategic planning firms to assist officials with the crafting the vision statement.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.