Results of the public voting session for Washington’s new comprehensive plan were discussed during a steering committee meeting Tuesday afternoon, June 12.
The steering committee is a group of individuals who were selected by the city to help facilitate the process of the comprehensive plan.
The most recent public input meeting and voting session was held Wednesday, June 6.
“To say the very least, it was very well-attended,” said Dan Lang of the Lang Gang Inc., the consultant hired to develop the plan. “We had expected there would be about 100 folks there and we had made enough materials for 100 people.”
A total of 202 people attended the meeting.
Of those, only 172 surveys were returned that evening and analyzed.
Of the surveys analyzed, 142 identified annexation as their principal concern, Lang said.
During the meeting, Lang passed out a list of the draft goals and the total number of votes each goal received.
Goals were divided into six major focus topics.
Each participant received 16 stars to place next to the goals they would most like for the city to achieve over the next several years. Additionally, each voter received one green dot to place next to the goal they felt was the most important and one red dot to place next to the goal they considered to be the least important.
Goals were compared based on highest number of stars and green dots, and fewest number of stars and most red dots.
“From the annexation group I could characterize as really two comments,” Lang said. “Obviously they were opposed to anything other than voluntary annexation with the city, and a number of those indicated that they were opposed to the No. 6 goal under parks/recreation/open space.”
The goal is “to preserve and protect special open spaces resources such as floodplains, wetlands and stream corridors.”
“I was a little confused by that (goal not being supported) to be completely honest, because I would think that most people who want to maintain a rural atmosphere around the community would also want to protect those open space resources,” Lang said. “It seems to me that would be very consistent with wanting a more rural, less developed Washington influence kind-of approach.”
A total of 79 red dots were assigned to the goal.
The most supported goal also was in the parks/recreation/open space category.
The goal “Develop the riverfront including the downtown area,” received 91 stars.
Immediately behind that goal was a land use goal, “Develop strategies to strengthen and support Downtown Washington,” which received 90 stars.
“The riverfront and Downtown were very important to the group who participated in the meeting,” Lang said.
Lang said that despite the annexation trend, people were pretty independent on the rest of the survey.
The highest priority goals were marked with green dots.
The goal with the most green dots was an economic development goal, “Increase the economic vitality of Downtown Washington in both attracting and retaining business,” which received six green dots and 66 stars.
Three other goals received four green dots.
One fell in the economic development category: “broaden the city’s economic base by attracting diverse business,” which received 69 stars, and two were transportation goals: “Expand the city of Washington’s pedestrian/bikeway network,” which received 33 stars; and “Ensure that the public safety needs (emergency response services) of the community are adequately met, which received 73 stars total.
Least supported goals also were discussed. These goals received the fewest number of stars.
A land use goal “Evaluate specific land use activities and encourage/discourage those which benefit citizenry,” received only 10 stars of a possible 172.
A parks/recreations/open space goal, “Continue to develop additional landscaping regulations for non-residential development to further enhance the aesthetic qualities of Washington,” was next to last with only 14 stars.
“I always find it a little surprising, and a little supportive of the process, that we would have the most supported goal under parks and one of the least supported goals, which is landscaping,” Lang said. “That tells me that people are reading through the content and making some conscious decisions about what they support and don’t support.”
The annexation group’s opposition to protecting special open spaces resources was the least supported goal in terms of red dots. It received 18 stars.
Other opposed goals by red dots include a land use goal “Create provisions to encourage entry-level residences within the community,” which received eight red dots and only 18 stars.
Another land use goal, “Evaluate and determine the needs for life-cycle (young adult through older adult) housing,” also was opposed with six red dots. The goal received 34 stars total.
Three additional goals were suggested on the surveys including a goal about getting new trash trucks,
The trash truck suggestion, Lang said, isn’t necessarily a goal, but may be an objective to meet a certain goal.
Another goal read “Optimize current available space within the city boundaries and achieve structural growth through the voluntary annexation of contiguous land.”
A final suggestion was to open more inexpensive youth centers in the city.
The next step for the steering committee is to determine what the final goals that will be included in the plan.
About three to five objectives will be outlined to help achieve each goal. Once the wording is complete there will be another public input session.
The committee will modify, adjusting, adding or subtract goals as needed.
The comprehensive plan survey is still available online through June 30.
It can be accessed through the city of Washington, MO Comprehensive Plan Facebook page.
A link has been posted on the city of Washington’s website, at ci.washington.mo.us. So far, 34 online surveys have been completed and nine have been partially completed.
The next steering committee meeting will be held Tuesday, July 24, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Washington City Hall.