Columbia Imagined public forum wants diverse voices

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 | 11:58 a.m. CDT; updated 8:20 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 20, 2011

COLUMBIA — A "plan for getting the plan done" has been established to involve Columbia residents in mapping the city's future, according to a comprehensive plan public forum held Tuesday.

The Comprehensive Plan Task Force held its first public forum Tuesday evening at City Hall to discuss Columbia Imagined, a six-phase planning process for the future growth and development of the city.

Six phases of the planning process:

  1. What is the plan? (April-May)
  2. Who are we? (May-July)
  3. What are we concerned about? (July-September)
  4. Where do we want to go? (September-December)
  5. How do we get there? (January-March 2012)
  6. Plan approval and adoption (approval by Planning and Zoning Commission, adoption by City Council)
  7. The elements of Columbia Imagined are:
  • Sustainable/livable communities
  • Accessibility, mobility and sustainability
  • Economic development
  • Environmental management
  • Infrastructure
  • Intergovernmental cooperation
  • Land use and growth management


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Tim Teddy, city planning director, conducted the forum and told more than 50 residents that Columbia Imagined is "not a roll-out of an already made plan."

Columbia Imagined — involving public forums, surveys and data analysis — is scheduled to conclude early next year.

Teddy called the plan "a framework for shaping and managing growth."

He said once the six-phase planning phase is complete, the comprehensive plan will have to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and adopted by the City Council in order for it to be an official document.

The 15-member Comprehensive Task Force has been studying comprehensive plans from other cities of comparable population and growth rates.

The group focused on plans that were published since 2007, and narrowed them to 12 cities, task force member Bonnie Maiers said.

The comprehensive plans of college towns, including Madison, Wis., and Fayetteville, Ark., along with "cities like Austin, Texas, that really have their act together," are being used as inspiration, Maiers said.

Three questions were asked of residents who attended the forum, and the answers were subsequently discussed:

  1. What do you think of this approach to developing the comprehensive plan?
  2. How would you like to be involved?
  3. Who else do you think needs to be involved?

The Comprehensive Plan Task Force invited Columbia residents who couldn't attend the forum to answer the same questions in an online survey.

The large room in City Hall was filled through the forum, but the crowd was mostly white.

"We want to find out how other groups that weren't represented want to be contacted and made part of the conversation," task force member Jonathan Sessions said, referring to the lack of diversity at Tuesday's forum.

A common comment from residents was the need to reach community members in each ward. Presentation-in-a-box kits, with surveys for public feedback, are being developed for distribution to neighborhood groups and churches, Teddy said.

Another forum, open to all residents, is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 4, in rooms 1A and 1B of the new City Hall addition.

To receive updates about Columbia Imagined, sign up for e-mails from the Comprehensive Plan Task Force.

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