The Elizabeth comprehensive plan was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of October, but that date has been extended to the end of December after residents raised concerns about potential …
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The Elizabeth comprehensive plan was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of October, but that date has been extended to the end of December after residents raised concerns about potential uncontrolled growth, annexing of land and fears of increased water usage.
At the Oct. 10 planning commission meeting, the town board of trustees approved extending the completion of the plan, and addressed points of concern to be reconsidered within the plan.
“Based on the feedback received, staff has noted a number of items to be further explored and addressed as we move forward drafting the plan documents,” states an update from Grace Erickson, assistant town administrator. “We anticipate that incorporating the feedback below would reduce the population projected in the plan that would be within the town’s corporate limits.”
The town has been working on the comprehensive plan since March of this year, and held several meetings with citizens and received input via an online survey. When the town released the proposed plan in September, hundreds of citizens showed up to express outrage at the proposed growth. The board of trustees scheduled three additional community meetings, and Mayor Megan Vasquez held smaller meetings to hear citizen input.
“We’ve definitely had a good crowd of people at these additional meetings and coffee with the mayor meetings,” said Matt Cohrs, Elizabeth town administrator. “We’ve engaged with about 400 people through the meetings.”
Concerns about water usage will be reviewed by the planning commission, with the master utility plan including a component that focuses on reducing reliance on the Lower Dawson Aquifer, and a monitoring program with adjacent domestic wells to identify what can be done operationally to reduce well-to-well interference.
Land use recommendations include providing buffers and transitions from municipal development to unincorporated development, which could mean encouraging larger lots where municipal development would abut estate development. Providing options for lower-density housing, and including a policy that values multi-use and medium density development closer to the town’s center and discourages sprawl were also suggested to the planning commission.
Residents’ fears about the rural environment being lost due to new development was addressed in the planning commission work session, with the suggestion of exploring dark sky policies in regard to outside lighting, and exploring design and architectural standards for future development that are unique to Elizabeth and that discourage cookie-cutter development patterns. Agricultural holding zones to provide a buffer around Elizabeth to better control growth, equestrian trails and a reduction of the size of the business park east of the town are also on the list of considerations.
Vasquez said the citizen input has been valuable in identifying areas of concern that need to be addressed in the comprehensive plan.
“I think this was a great public outreach, we have a lot of new citizens showing up,” said Vasquez. “It was a great way to answer questions and correct information. We heard a lot more than we heard before, so the planning commission definitely has some new things to take into consideration.”
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