Following Up on the Comp Plan Public Meeting

bridgesquarefun.jpgA number of people have asked me about the next steps for public input on the Comprehensive Plan revision process. I’ll go out on a limb once again and make a public statement without first checking with the spin doctors, risking imperfection in the quest for openess.

The Planning Commission met on Wednesday night. We reviewed the citizen input from Tuesday. Most, but not all, of it had been compiled in the 24 hours following the public meeting, thanks in part to a number of citizen volunteers. This input included, in my words, the treasures, the growth allocation percentages, the pink and green dots, and the 19 phrases and pictures. From this material we drafted 12 proposed principles that would guide the revising of the Comp Plan. We also sketched out a plan for continuing to seek public input as we moved forward on the revision process.

Thursday morning, the Planning Commission met with the City Council, reviewed the results and presented the proposed principles and the plan. We sought Council confirmation of our proposed principles and process. There was solid support from the Council on the principles. The Planning Commission and the Council Members, as well as a number of citizens in attendance, tweaked the proposed process, resulting in an approach that offered promise in both the short and long terms.

The Planning Commission will be meeting next Tuesday night to hone the details. However, I will share the basic outline of the process as it currently stands. There will be another public meeting, probably in the next 30 days or so. At that meeting, we will share the results of the first public meeting, as well as the 12 principles, and clarify a few of the issues that seem to justify follow-up.

From that point through to the presentation of the draft revision in September, we will work through the existing citizen-staffed boards and commissions. There is much congruence between functional areas in the chapters of the Comprehensive Plan and the missions of these boards and commissions. For example, the chapter on housing and the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the chapter on economic development and the Economic Development Authority, and the environment and the Environmental Quality Commission.

The Planning Commission and the City Council Members believe that the Boards and Commissions represent our citizen “experts” on these subjects. They have worked on these topics for years and have demonstrated a degree of passion for them. We believe that they have a strong level of commitment to seeing that the community’s values and visions in these areas do not gather dust in a plan but actually be realized in the implementation of the resulting ordinances.

This summary is longer than I intended. Hopefully it helps to illustrate our intentions. There will be more data on the Plan website and more details on the process coming from the Planning Commission. Thanks once again to all the people who have participated in the process so far. We look forward to your continuing participation.


  1. Tracy Davis said:

    Thanks for the summary, Ross. Excerpts from the Tuesday night slideshow are posted to, and the preliminary results (Strong Places-Weak Places, Rankings, etc.) will follow in the next few days.

    April 6, 2007
  2. kiffi summa said:

    I went to the Wed. evening meeting , with the consultants reporting to the PC. They all worked hard on digesting the info, and beginning to develop a more detailed plan for going forward with both public input, and the body of consultant’s work.
    I missed the meeting on Thursday morning, with the city council, but was really disturbed to hear from an attendee, that there were only three councilors in attendance. If this is the revision of the most basic guiding plan for the next 10 years, what’s up with the minimal attendance?
    Having witnessed a lot of this process, from the first task force meeting with the consultant on, I am feeling really bummed by the
    lack of council participation at Thursday mornings meeting………and if I were the consulting firm, I’d really be wondering…………. 200-240 people come to the public meeting, and three council members to the initial report of those 200-some citizen’s input????????

    There’s a BIG need for council work sessions that are in depth, on one or two subjects only, per meeting. There are a lot of big problems right now; let’s have a lot of big/indepth discussion by the elected reps.

    April 7, 2007
  3. Tracy Davis said:

    Kiffi, my initial response was the same as yours, but then I decided to reframe it. All City Council members, plus Mayor Lee Lansing and City Administrator Ad Roder were present at the Tuesday night public meeting, and many of those heard at least part of the summaries presented to the Planning Commission in the following meetings.

    I think the best way to proceed is to conclude that the minimal attendance by City Councillors of the joint Planning Commission/Council meeting on Thursday morning indicates an endorsement of the direction in which the Planning Commission and consultants are heading. If that’s not the case, they’d better let us know ASAP!

    April 7, 2007
  4. Ross Currier said:


    Like Tracy, I was surprised by the missing faces. However, the Council Members that did attend were very engaged, had excellent suggestions and indicated that they perceived that the missing members shared their broad perspectives on the topic.

    In following up on the missing members, I found that either job obligations or health issues accounted for all absences.

    Finally Kiffi, you and I well know that if one thinks that a single presentation to smiling and nodding Council members is all that it takes to implement the values and visions of the people, one has much to learn about politics. Regardless of the attendance Thursday morning, good or poor, there is much work yet to be done.

    Thanks much,


    April 7, 2007
  5. kiffi summa said:

    OK, I luv’ya both….but do I feel ganged up on? Yeah, I do…….. Why not let someone support the PC and the amount of effort both they and the consultant have done here? I felt that the council and mayor’s lack of attendance at the Thurs AM meeting, was inadequate; elected officials get time off work for participating in important meetings. Maybe I’m the only one who felt it was that important?

    April 7, 2007
  6. Tracy Davis said:

    Yes, it’s a bit off-putting when a designated joint meeting is held and the Mayor and half the Council choose not to attend. It would have been nice if we’d known ahead of time that there were conflicts, so that the meeting might have been scheduled for a different time, or I could have chosen to spend those two hours where I was badly needed (at work), instead of listening to the same summary of information twice in twelve hours.

    As a volunteer who receives no stipend of any sort, it’s demoralizing to even contemplate the idea that I may be wasting my time. I spend 10+ hours on civic stuff in a typical week, and close to 25 hours this week (10 of those actually attending meetings), in addition to a more-than-full-time job and school-age children at home. I can’t afford to expend the time and energy I do unless I believe it will make a difference, and that we are helping to carry out the mission of our elected officials.

    So, fighting my natural tendency toward snarkiness (is that a word?), I choose to believe that the lack of attendance on Thursday morning did NOT indicate perceived or actual lack of importance to the Council. I assume that they were just busy attending to other demands, and that they think what we’re doing is A-OK, and they trust that the three Councilors who did attend can adequately represent the concerns and questions of the Councilors who were absent.

    If I’m in denial, please leave me there. Thank you.

    April 7, 2007
  7. Ross Currier said:

    Hey Kiffi:

    I was not intending to attack you, I was just empathizing with the Council Members.

    Although they make the big bucks and P C members are just volunteers, all of us who participate heavily in the civic process, including citizens like yourself, know that it’s often a thankless process, even at $2 an hour or whatever the Council gets paid.

    Several citizens came up to me after Thursday’s meeting and were quite upset with the Council members who did not attend. Some follow up revealed that they are like Tracy and have full-time jobs, children and related schedule challenges or were simply not feeling well. My impression is that they felt bad about not being able to attend but indeed are very supportive of the process.

    Perhaps I’m just keeping Tracy company in denial but it seems to me like the right place at this point in the process.

    Thanks much,


    April 7, 2007

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