Jane McWilliams, LWV Observer
Commissioner Alice Thomas was absent
Tonight the commission took up the Chapter 4 of the comprehensive plan dedicated to land use. According to the draft, the purpose of the chapter is to “address how the future land use pattern will be shaped to be more efficient in terms of fiscal impacts of new development, mobility and connectivity, and guiding land use decisions that help the community protect cherished cultural and environmental resources.”
The chapter reports key findings about existing conditions, shows existing land use, spells out land use principles and the regulatory implications. Finally, it lays out eleven objectives indicating specific policy direction along with strategies necessary to achieve them.
Two commissioners, Alice Thomas and Ron Griffith, provided written suggestions for revising the document. The evening was taken up reviewing many of those and agreeing on which changes should be made. Thomas’ memo raised a question as to what the balance between “residential” and “business and industry” should be. Are there indicators which would tell whether a city had achieved balance? The commissioners decided that annual monitoring of the trends in development would be an operational tool.
A concept in this plan is the “context zone” which it defines as “areas of the city with a combination of elements that create a specific character.” The chapter identifies ten different zones and defines them. An example is the Core, “the densest development located in the center of the original plat of Northfield which offers a mix of uses.”
The commission struggled with how this concept actually works. Even the staff seems at a loss as to how the zones were determined, what role they play and how the accompanying maps are applied.
The staff will continue to review the submitted comments and incorporate them for the commission’s review later. Staff will confer with consultants Friday to determine how this concept can be administered on a day-to-day basis. If staff is ready for a continued discussion of this matter, the commission will meet next week to complete their review of Chapter 4.