Residents and businesses will be asked for their ideas on ways to utilize undeveloped land and existing business districts that would boost investment in Pacific.

Public input is being sought to shape the future of the city in a series of meetings with churches, boards, committees and civic groups.

Zoning districts that contain nonconforming uses that date back to the origin of the city, as well as the housing market crash that left uncompleted subdivisions, have stymied growth in recent years.

Speaking at the March 26 planning and zoning commission meeting, Todd Streiler, the urban planner contracted to craft a new comprehensive plan that would complement new development, said he would meet with as many groups as possible to seek their input.

“We’ve been looking at how to best approach public engagement in crafting the plan,” Streiler said. “What we decided was rather than one-on-one meetings with stakeholders, the administration would send me to each organization or committee. This will give us meaningful feedback.”

Streiler said he would prepare questions for each group that would parallel questions on a citizen survey to be completed by individuals.

“Once consensus is built internally we’ll create a vision co-authored by all organizations,” he said. “This would be a vision for the future, plus goals and objectives for key issues.”

The new master plan will be molded or shaped by talking to these organizations and listening to their feedback.

“So it truly will be a citizen-driven plan,” Streiler said. “Residents and businesses will know they helped us write the plan so they feel they’re a part of this plan.”

Citizens will be asked their views on expanding the city limits by annexing some surrounding area. A driving question is where should the city be looking to annex?

Streiler said he also will look at factors such as the number of Pacific residents who shop in other communities and explore what it would take to increase shopping at home.

“This is a great time to work on a plan because we just received the 2000 decennial census,” Streiler said. “What we’ve decided to do is to measure that data against some peer communities that measure up to Pacific, such as Union, St. Clair and Washington.”

The planner said Pacific is probably 20 years behind the rapid growth on Highway 70 in St. Charles County and Warren County.

“This (Pacific) is an untapped area,” he said. “I think we’re going to see some continued growth that we’d be wise to manage.”