The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 8, 2013

Land use plan sent back

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Unsatisfied with the city of Clinton's proposed comprehensive plan, the Planning Commission on Wednesday sent the plan back for more review.

The East Central Intergovernmental Association worked with city staff to prepare the city's planning document, which gives the city a legal basis for land use regulations and provides a unified vision for the community as well as the plans to reach that vision.

Commission members noted several deficiencies in the 90-page document such as the lack of focus on expanding the city's housing stock and development outside the city's already developed areas.

A majority of Clinton's housing stock is valued between $50,000 and $149,000, with 65 percent of all Clinton housing being more than 50 years old.

Real estate agent Bob Allmandinger, who serves on the commission, said he would have liked to see the plan address how to entice development of new housing that falls in a higher price-range than the average in order to attract residents and businesses.

"It may be the most important thing we have for the future of this town other than jobs is to have housing so we don't continue to lose people to outside areas," Allmandinger said.

The question is how do you build a community that has the financial challenge Clinton does, commission member Charlier Horner said.

"Why would you want to move to Clinton when the garbage collection's so high and that sewer rates are high and the taxes are so high and we're in debt up to our ears? How do you build a town when you owe so much money?" he asked.

Commission member Tom Lonergan decried the lack of future zoning classifications for everything along Mill Creek Parkway, saying the city needs to think about how it would extend services to that area and calling the city's approach piece-meal.

"It's like we're committing slow suicide. We're dying of 1,000 paper cuts because we get all these applications to come in for rezoning or building permits or a variance for a single item and I don't think this comprehensive plan is dealing with that. So I wouldn't call it a comprehensive plan at this point," Lonergan said.

Fellow commission member Sue Tugana also pointed to the shortage of vision for the westward development.

"If you want us to be in charge of what goes where, I guess we can do it. I don't think that's a really smart position for the community," Tugana said.

The plan was proposed to be approved by the City Council at the Nov. 26 meeting, but Tugana suggested ECIA review the comments from the commission before the commission forwards the plan.

The commission also took action on the Capital Improvements Plan, forwarding the plan to the council. The CIP committee developed the plan, which details the capital projects the city would complete in the next five years, and forwarded it to the Plan Commission in order for the plan to reach the council.

Projects in fiscal year 2015 total a little more than $10.3 million, with $3.78 million coming from a general obligation bond that would increase the city's debt service tax levy.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser explained the new council will have the final say on what projects are completed as the plan will be incorporated in the budget process that starts early next year.

"If there's something in fiscal year '15 they don't like, they can exclude it as part of the budget process," Kinser said. "The idea is that we have this done and wrapped up and approved in December so that it can immediately become part of the budget process and we're not waiting until late in January."

The city plans to hold a public meeting where members of the community can give input.