Editorial/Op

Master Plan Changes? Drainage First!

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUEb largerCentral’s Master Plan is the roadmap for future development of our city. It was substantially completed in 2014 and the city has now embarked on an effort to change it. (See front page story.) I have one request: Drainage First!
The Master Plan was designed to preserve Central’s quiet lifestyle while allowing for reasonable growth. It is also a plan that can be changed, as the city is attempting to do now. Having only been in place three years, I believe the current attempt to change the Master Plan is premature, and that it is driven by Mayor Shelton’s stated goal to “make this city grow”.
But what about the effect that drainage will have on any potential rezoning of property in this Master Plan revision? The City is spending $1million on a comprehensive drainage study that will likely change our understanding of what property is subject to flooding, and how adjacent properties may be affected.  How can the city justify rezoning property without first understanding our drainage problems, especially in the aftermath of the 2016 flood?
To me, this is being done exactly backwards. I compare this to building a house on a piece of property and then, after the house is finished, doing a study to see what part of the property floods. I strongly support the comprehensive drainage plan, I pushed for it to get done, and I look forward to Central having that vital information BEFORE the Master Plan is changed. Drainage First!
Our Master Plan was well-researched and involved many public meetings, input from hundreds of citizens, and the work of at least eighteen experts including Professional Engineers, Certified Planners, Landscape Architects, GIS Professionals, and an MBA. The Master Plan laid out a long-term plan to retain Central’s rural feel while allowing targeted areas of the city to accommodate growth. The rezoning of most of Central called for in the Master Plan happened in June of 2014, so I personally believe it is too soon to say that we need to rezone parts of the city again, especially without the critical information to be provided by the Drainage Plan.
I encourage citizens to attend Monday’s open house to give input on the Master Plan changes. I hope there will be a box to check that says “Don’t change the Master Plan until the Drainage Plan is finished.” I don’t think that it is too much to ask to wait a few more months for good drainage information before changing the Master Plan. Drainage First! That’s the way I see it.
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