COLUMBIA — The use of voting clickers helped residents get involved at a phase four meeting for Columbia Imagined on Wednesday.
Columbia Imagined has received 1,000 objectives and 500 goals from a public forum and an online survey since phase four began in late April. Rachel Bacon, a certified planner on the Community Development staff, said it took four staff members three days to sort through the 1,000 objectives they received.
The pool of public input was narrowed and compounded into 35 goals and objectives. Out of those 35, the community development staff selected two goals from each of seven categories, which were decided from previous public input, to be voted on and receive public input at Wednesday night's meeting.
The goals were culled from categories that include land use and growth management, livable and sustainable community and economic development.
Each person at the meeting was given a clicker to register his or her vote. Three options were presented for each goal:
- On the right track
- Needs tweaking
- Go back to the drawing board
Everyone submitted a vote that was then electronically tallied and illustrated as a graphic on screen. Many of the goals received an even distribution between the first and second option, with very few votes asking for a complete overhaul of the goal.
After the initial voting, the meeting supervisors went back through each goal and opened the floor for public discussion.
It was the first meeting that used a polling method to gather the attendants' opinions and give them instant, visible results, Pat Zenner, the City Development Services manager, said.
"I think it went very well," Zenner said. "It was a very productive evening."
Discussion and participation was high among the roughly 30 people that attended the meeting.
"(The discourse) was civil, it was focused," Zenner said.
The comments and feedback will help the Community Development staff refine the goals and objectives.
One of the meetingoer's main complaints were about the vague terminology and undefined terms within the goals and objectives.
Adam Saunders, a nine-year Columbia resident, has followed the Columbia Imagined plan since its beginning.
"I'd like to see it become a world class city," he said. For that to happen, Saunders said he thinks that it needs a plan and the developing plan with Columbia Imagined isn't quite complete.
"It needs to have the policy and implement process to ensure that it happens," he said.
Saunders is the co-founder of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, where city planning plays an important role in his job.
"The city has an interesting and pivotal role in protecting agricultural lands in the city and surrounding area," he said. "Our city is growing rapidly and thoughtful planning will ensure agricultural lands are protected, ... that the city grows in a way that is healthy, sustainable and equitable."
Last year, Columbia Imagined developed a six-step plan to collect public input and find out what people want and what the city needs to do to encourage growth in Columbia. More than 300 residents voiced input on phase four, "Where are we headed?", according to a news release.
"Where are we headed?" is an analysis of what Columbia will look like in 20 years if it grows at the same rate it has for the past 20 years. The press release calls this a "trend growth scenario."
The growth scenarios were on the agenda for Wednesday, but public discussion and questions on the goals and objectives lasted so long that Zenner decided to table the second half of the agenda. He hopes to schedule another meeting within the next two weeks about the growth scenarios.
To learn more or get involved in the discussion:
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