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12-18-13

Downtown Master Plan
complete: Now what?

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

The document for the Parkville Downtown Master Plan has officially been received by the board of aldermen.

On Tuesday, the board voted to acknowledge receipt of the document in order to close out the contract with the consultant firm Ochsner, Hare & Hare, and to finish the requirements of a grant received from the Mid-America Regional Council.

The next step for the document is to go before the city's planning and zoning commission for adoption before it would come back to the board of aldermen for adoption after a public hearing on Jan. 14.

The language for the board was originally to “accept” the master plan, but several aldermen objected to the language and Chris Fisher, alderman, suggested the board should use “acknowledge receipt” instead.

Fisher said he would like to hear more feedback from the community about the final document before they accept the findings of the report.

Sean Ackerson, assistant city administrator and community development director, said the city still has the right to amend the document at any time.

“If there are elements you think are not right, we are welcome to make revisions,” said Ackerson.

Ackerson said the document is now owned by the city and can be revised or implemented how the city wishes.

The city also may revise the document in the future to accommodate development it had not planned for in the master plan. The planning commission had already found some changes that need to be made to the document when it recommended accepting the master plan to the aldermen.

“It's not uncommon for a developer to come in and have a different plan,” said Ackerson.

He also said the city should look at updating the master plan every five to 10 years to make sure it still reflects the will of the community.

Jim Werner, alderman, suggested the city should form a subcommittee led by the city's staff to find possible changes to the master plan document.

Werner also suggested that the planning commission meeting to adopt the document, scheduled in January 2014, be moved back.
Steve Chinn, city attorney, told the board that in Missouri the document is just considered a guide and the city and developers are not required to follow the recommendations.

Nan Johnston, alderman, suggested the board may need more time to review the document since it is already the holiday season.

“I would like more time to spend with this document,” said Johnston. “This board is very cautious about putting our stamp on this without properly vetting (the plan). There have been many opportunities for public input but not enough time for the public to see the final document.”

Marc Sportsman, alderman, acknowledged the work the city staff had done already, but said it is healthy for more people to view the final document before it is approved.

The master plan document has been developed by the representatives of the consulting firm after many public meetings in the fall and winter this year.

The document outlines some suggestions for possible development along the east side of Hwy. 9 in downtown including redeveloping the properties with more shops and parking. Other suggestions are to create more connections between the downtown and English Landing Park by improving sidewalks or building south of the railroad to provide a transition area.

Other suggestions include expanding the city's sidewalks and trail network to connect downtown to the park and Parkville Commons development. There is also a plan outlined to redevelop some properties along West Street to provide more housing with a similar character to homes along Main Street.

The complete Downtown Master Plan document is available to view at the city's website: parkvillemo.gov