The city-wide comprehensive plan was discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the City Plan Commission. The commission worked on developing a mission statement for the long-term goals of the city, as well as the future of the Liberty Square development.

The commission held a brainstorming session, following a short presentation by Nicole Turpin of the East Central Intergovernmental Association. Some goals suggested by the council were growing the community, determining how best to extend city services and providing a good quality of life.

Commission member Tom Lonergan said that he was disappointed with the number of abandoned or disregarded buildings in the city, including former schools and churches. “I would like to see some kind of encouragement in our comprehensive plan to redevelop (those properties),” Lonergan said.

First Ward Council member Maggie Klaes said the city council has made efforts to encourage responsibility in local property owners and that the council is aware of the issue.

The Liberty Square development project was also discussed. Commission member Charles Horner expressed disappointment that progress on the project has been slow and updates have been rare.

“There ought to be a plan,” Horner said. “There ought to be dates set.”

City Planner Michael Reynolds said that plans were in place and that progress on the project would depend on the Iowa Department of Transportation. The IDOT needs to complete it’s development before the land can be subdivided and sold.

“We can’t bring the people to it until the property’s been subdivided,” Reynolds said.

Horner said that he’d heard of deals already being discussed, possibly in secret, regarding the property. It was pointed out that property sales going on in the area, but not on the narrow strip of grass, are not considered part of the Liberty Square project.

In other action the commission:

• Accepted an amendment further clarifying code detailing aesthetics for future Liberty Square businesses. Signs mounted on poles will not be allowed, except in the case of directional signs. All other signage must be “monument” style, and under 6 feet.

There was some discussion regarding adding language to restrict the brightness of signage lights, but the commission determined that waiting for an adjustment to the city code for consistency was prudent.

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