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Pilot Point study serves as example

Pilot Point officials announced recently that they are finishing an agreement with the University of Texas at Arlington to develop a comprehensive master plan, and we believe it’s a good idea.

The city has had similar plans created in the past, but officials said the plan to be developed by UTA will be updated and tailored to Pilot Point based on studies completed earlier this year.

As you may recall, a team of city planning experts from the American Institute of Architects visited the city for about a week in February and identified weaknesses, strengths and strategies the city could use to plan and manage growth.

One of the team members recommended that the city invest in developing a master plan because successful cities have clear visions for growth, while cities without a well-defined vision usually struggle with finding an identity.

The Pilot Point City Council has approved a budget amendment to pay for UTA’s services, which will cost $12,000, plus any expenditure related to extra meetings for public involvement, according to a city staff report.

In our view, the new study could prove to be a bargain.

The work will be completed by UTA’s Institute of Urban Studies, which works with clients throughout Texas to help develop solutions to urban and rural challenges like economic development and master planning, said Brian Guenzel, director of the institute. Established in 1967, the institute has assisted several Texas cities, including Arlington, Burleson, Celina, Benbrook, Fairview, Fort Worth, Kaufman and DeSoto.

The work will be done by a team of four graduate students and two professional city planners from the university.

Guenzel said the work conducted by UTA will be more comprehensive than the work done by the American Institute of Architects. He said the institute would take the work performed by the team of planners this year and take it a few steps further by investing more time into the city and doing more research.

Guenzel said the project will take about four months, and he said he expects the study could identify common themes that many cities — large and small — are struggling to manage.

Those challenges, he said, include how to address a rapidly growing older population and the urbanization of rural communities. Zoning and land use also are typical challenges for cities wanting to grow because sometimes they are behind the times, Guenzel said.

“We’re here to help cities update,” he said. “And we’re here to help the cities plan as far down the road as possible.”

We commend Pilot Point officials for their forward thinking, and we believe other area cities should follow their example.

Considering Denton County’s growth in recent years, there’s every reason to believe that increased development is an inevitable part of the future of Pilot Point and many other area cities.

The sooner those cities prepare for their future challenges, the better equipped they will be to find solutions.