City plan ready for review
For nearly three hours Monday night, 16 community members pored over a draft of Tonganoxie's new Comprehensive Plan.
The document will guide development in the city and nearby area for the next 20 years.
As they sat at a table in City Council Chambers, city staff members, city council members, planning commissioners and a comprehensive plan task force went page-by-page through the draft document.
Their work was in preparation for a public workshop at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at Tonganoxie High School's auditorium. City staff members, as well as representatives of the consulting firm that worked on the draft, will be available at that meeting to explain the plan and answer questions.
Linda Zacher, city planner, said she's hopeful Tonganoxie area residents take an opportunity to review the plan.
"We're doing something that's really going to affect their lives," Zacher said.
Perhaps the biggest change between the new planning document and the existing one, which was adopted in 1987, centers on specifics, Zacher said.
For example, the existing plan called for a manufactured mobile home park near the intersection of Smiley Road and U.S. Highway 24-40. So when a local landowner decided to develop a mobile home park, the city had little choice but to approve his plans.
The new plan, instead, establishes a series of goals for the city to work toward, which will provide flexibility for the next 20 years, she said.
"This does not have specific areas designated for an absolute thing," Zacher said.
The city's 10-member comprehensive plan task force has worked for several months with a Lawrence consultant on the plan. The city is paying the consultant, Strauss and Associates, $10,000 for its work on the document. Zacher said the city received one other bid for the work that came in at $20,000.
One frustration for Zacher and others who have worked on the plan is that the quarter-inch-thick document is based on 1990 U.S. Census information.
"As soon as the 2000 data is available, we're going to start updating the statistical information in the plan," Zacher said. '' There's a whole section that feels like it's a plan for 1990, rather than 2000. It was really unavoidable."
Zacher said that once the city council approves the plan, the mayor each October will appoint a task force to review it and propose amendments for the city council's consideration the following January.
Copies of the plan, including maps, are available for review at City Hall. They may be purchased for $7.50, she said. And by next Wednesday, the plan and maps will be available for review on the city's Web site: www.tongie.org, Zacher said.
She's hopeful residents will take time to look through the document.
"Basically we've gone through and done all the prep work for them, based on information we had in meetings in 1997 and 1998," she said. "We pulled it together in this plan. It's up to them to see if we did a good job or not to take a look over our shoulders and see if we did what they wanted us to do."
The planning commission will consider approving the plan at its March 7 meeting, and the city council is scheduled to take action on March 12.