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Baldwin City to start update of comprehensive plan next year

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November 10, 2015

The Baldwin City Planning Commission and City Council will have another item on their plates next year as they update the city's comprehensive plan.

Interim City Administrator Brad Smith said $20,000 was earmarked in the city 2016 budget for the update. The city last updated its comprehensive plan in January 2008 at the conclusion of a process that started in 2006. A comprehensive plan establishes community goals primarily through the land-use guidelines.

A June report to the Baldwin City Planning Commission from consultant iPlanit LLC on the city’s planning and codes processes recommended an update to the comprehensive plan, noting the existing update was approved before the recession changed economic conditions and because much of its supporting data was more than eight years old at the time it was approved.

Two recent developments also make it an opportune time to revisit the comprehensive plan. This month, the City Council approved bonding for a $2.5 million sewer interceptor that will serve the northeastern section of the city and open property in that area for development. Another possible development game changer was the auction in August of 160 acres on the city’s northeast shoulder that had been owned by the late Margaret Counts. Chris Lowe, city administrator at the time of the sale, said the comprehensive plan needed to consider the land passing from an owner who no interest in development.

Baldwin City codes inspector Tina Rakes said the first step in the update process would be to seek request for proposals from consultants in the city planning field. Those consultants would likely look at the process the city last used to update the comprehensive plan when submitting proposals, she said.

During the last update, the planning commission scheduled a number of work sessions to talk about issues related to the comprehensive plan. Those work sessions were be open to the public and gave residents the opportunity to provide input in the process, she said.

In addition, a public hearing would be required before planning commissioners recommended an update to the Baldwin City Council, Rakes said. Any final city council action would also require a public hearing.

During last summer’s discussion of the proposed voluntary annexation of property west of the industrial park, Councilwoman Kathy Gerstner suggested it was time to revisit the comprehensive plan. On Tuesday, she said she didn’t have any single issue in mind but wanted the city to have a thoughtful and reasonable plan for growth.

The council would probably have a better idea about the its approach to the comprehensive plan update after a retreat scheduled for Saturday at the Baldwin City Municipal Golf Course club house, Gerstner said.

The iPlanit report also recommended a review of city codes, and Mayor Marilyn Pearse said she was ready for that process to start. Among those codes most in need for review and revision were those regulating mobile home parks, she said.

The mayor said one concern was the lack of storm shelters in the city's mobile home parks, which she said were once required. The other issue she wanted to see addressed was the density of units in the parks. Current density regulations were written when mobile homes were much smaller than those manufactured now, she said.

Crowded parks increase the risk of fires spreading from home to home, make it difficult for first responders to fight fires and put residents and first responders at risk during fires, Pearse said.

Originally published at: http://www.baldwincity.com/news/2015/nov/10/baldwin-city-start-update-comprehensive-plan-next-/