Because the Master Plan is a community-driven project for the citizens of District 4, it is important to obtain their input on issues, opportunities, goals, aspirations and vision for District 4. The Open House was an opportunity to introduce the project to the community and seek their input and ideas that will be used to establish common goals and priorities.
There was a great turn out at the Open House with participants from throughout District 4. The room was energized with the participants’ enthusiasm and the feedback very positive! Close to 200 citizens came out to share their thoughts, ideas and vision for District 4.
All of the stations were staffed with facilitators from Matrix Design Group and the County planning department. The “land use” station focused on citizens’ zoning and density preferences, while the “transportation” station sought input on identifying intersections in need of improvements and locations for alternative routes to relieve congestion from high traffic areas.
The wall map station was used for people to identify issues and assets in geographic areas of District 4 using color coded tabs, i.e., problems that needed to be fixed OR high-value assets that should be preserved or enhanced. The most common issue reported from participants was congestion on Hwy 98. The total number of issues was balanced by the number of assets identified in District 4 such as the tremendous value placed on parks and open spaces.
The VPS is designed to help people identify with the community character that they prefer in topic areas such as transportation, housing, commercial development, signage, outdoor lightings, parks and recreation etc. People intuitively place value on the character of their environment but don’t always know how to articulate what it is that they value about that character. Character is most often associated with design, spatial relationships, appearance and function, such as the built form and their surroundings, the relationships of streets and the pedestrian environment, and scale of blocks, lots, buildings and other man made features. It can also be measured by natural features, culture, history and demographics.
All of these attributes influence people’s perceptions of community character. The VPS helps to identify characteristics that people prefer using visual cues as opposed to esoteric planning jargon that can focus on elements like setbacks, building heights, density etc. The preferences in a VPS can help to develop policies and guidelines to create that preferred character.
Based on the findings from the community input, a plan will start to emerge and set of actionable items developed to implement that plan. The tools needed to implement the plan, i.e. policies, land use overlay district, recommended changes to the Land Development Code, etc., will be determined from the community input that is now being gathered and processed.
Moving forward, the goals and vision of the community will be identified and developed as conceptual plans for District 4. These plan alternatives will be presented to the community for discussion at a forthcoming public open house. Based on the community feedback to the alternatives, a single master plan will emerge which could be one of the alternatives or a hybrid of elements or features from each.