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In the spring of 2009, the Planning and Zoning Commission began to do the heavy lifting for the city’s new master plan.
The master plan is part of a concept called growth management planning. Rather than allowing the city to expand willy-nilly, the commission is putting together recommendations for the Planning Department to codify into a written document outlining the characteristics, in developments and natural landscape, Columbia is looking for as it continues to grow.
The first step is establishing a baseline of what Columbia has now? That includes variables such as how land is zoned and how many residents live here. Columbia can then compare its future development to that baseline.
Although it’s only a plan, it could be used by citizens, city staff or elected officials to support or oppose specific projects. It could also be used as reference in overhauling zoning rules, land disturbance regulations and other city ordinances. And it would serve as a reference to guide the planning staff as it reviews project plans.
The closest thing Columbia has to a comprehensive plan is the Metro 2020 Plan, but it was approved in 2001 and is not as “comprehensive” as the new plan aspires to be. In the new document the city plans to include many of the goals outlined in the visioning process and pull together plans the city has for its future roads and transit system.
It’s a big job, likely years in the making. The Planning and Zoning Commission is still identifying the information it wants to include in a baseline. In May 2009, the City Council approved the creation of a 15-member task force charged with helping to develop and advertise the plan. The Comprehensive Plan Task Force meets twice a month and assists the Planning and Zoning Commission.
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Updated: March 20, 2013