Archived Story

Plan to help guide development

Published 8:38pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

After months of input, discussion and some revision, Washington’s latest comprehensive plan is in place.
Last month, the council voted 4-1 to adopt the plan, with Councilman Doug Mercer voting against it. Mercer said the plan is inadequate and “not worth the paper it’s printed on.” He believes the plan does not do enough when it comes to addressing some areas of the city outside the downtown area.
A comprehensive plan outlines what kinds of development are desired in the city and where those types of development should occur. It also addresses the issue of preserving and protecting historical and cultural buildings, sites and landmarks in the city.
City officials use the comprehensive plan when reviewing requests for land to be rezoned to see if the requested rezoning would be in compliance with the comprehensive plan.
The plan — “Pride in the Past, Faith in the Future” — is organized around five major themes: downtown and the waterfront, economic development, community appearance, historic preservation and tourism, including eco-tourism.
The plan lists three initiatives that should be pursued first. They are supporting efforts to promote the downtown/waterfront areas, new opportunities to implement and pursue medium- and long-range ideas and actions that are feasible, inexpensive and relatively easy to complete quickly add
The plan was prepared to “articulate a vision for the community’s future and a road map for how to achieve that future,” reads the plan’s preface.
One recommendation in plan is to allow commercial use of the city’s docks. Other recommendations call for continuing efforts to bring a hotel to the downtown area and improve public access to the water by building a pier for use by the community.
Before the vote to adopt the plan, Councilman William Pitt noted the plan might be modified any time to accommodate any changes that may be needed in the coming months.
Among the things a comprehensive plan addresses are land-use and zoning matters, along with other growth- and development-related issues, according to John Rodman, the city’s director of planning and community development. It also sets policies regarding those matters. The council has final say on the plan.
In the summer of 2011, the Planning Board decided it wanted a “fresh” comprehensive plan. The city awarded a $30,000 contract to Clarion Associates, a Denver-based firm with an office in Chapel Hill, to produce the plan.

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