Final action should come next month on adopting a new comprehensive plan to guide future growth and development in Washington.
Following a formal public hearing Monday night, planning and zoning commission members voted to table adopting the plan so some proposed changes can be incorporated into the document.
Normally a recommending board, the comprehensive plan, by statute, must be adopted by the planning commission. The document, once approved, will be presented to the city council.
Work on the plan began 15 months ago, said Dan Lang of the Lang Gang consulting firm retained by the city. The normal time for developing such a plan is 12 to 18 months, he noted, “so you’re right on track.”
During the hearing, Lang provided a time line of how the process progressed through meetings and obtaining input from citizens. A 13-member steering committee helped guide the process, he said.
It’s been 10 years since the city last updated its comprehensive plan, Lang said. “Many parts of that plan have been adopted, which is why it should be updated,” he said.
Since the last meeting of the committee, recommended changes and corrections were added to the draft plan, Lang said.
The plan will be further amended based on concerns and questions raised Monday.
The plan features six focus segments: aesthetics, civic improvement, land use, transportation/infrastructure, parks/recreation/open space, and economic development. Each focus area has several goals and objectives to meet.
There are about 42 goals and 144 objectives. A future land use map and major street plan also are included in the plan.
The plan is designed to help city officials anticipate future land usage, which is beneficial when looking at zoning requests, as well as when the city is looking at its transportation networks and development.
Samantha Cerutti Wacker, board member, said she had several editing changes she would forward to Lang.
John Borgmann, member, raised several points, including possibly ranking goals and objectives and whether Washington fits the model of a balanced community.
Lang said he would describe Washington as a balanced community and said that the committee decided to not establish a ranking, noting that “all goals are important, all objectives are important.”
City Engineer Dan Boyce proposed adding another future street project to a list of 21 proposed improvements. Boyce said the plan should include a future street connection from the Windy Hills residential subdivision to West Fifth Street. Currently the subdivision is served by a single entrance/exit.
Wacker suggested adding a mental health facility under proposed civic improvements in the plan.
She also said an objective of developing an RV park in the future “frightens me from a public safety standpoint.”
Darren Lamb, community and economic development director, said the plan suggests the city should “explore” developing an RV park because of the requests for one that have been heard over the years.
Mayor Sandy Lucy said from a tourism viewpoint, such a park is needed. Now, people come to town and inquire about where they can park their RVs and they have to be sent to other areas. If the city had a facility to accommodate them, it would serve to boost tourism here, she noted.
Wacker said she is concerned about people staying long term in an RV park. She suggested adding wording in the plan to make an RV park for tourism purposes only.
Todd Geisert addressed the board and asked that his family farm east of Washington be removed from the proposed new land use plan.
Steering committee members included Scott Breckenkamp, Tim Brinker, Bob Dobsch, Gayle Hachman, Tom Holdmeier, Sandy Lucy, Terri McLain, Gretchen Aubuchon Pettet, Julie Scannell, Tessie Steffens, John Vietmeier, Kurt Voss and Carolyn Witt.