Planning Commission begins Comprehensive Plan updates

February 28, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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The city of Newcastle’s volunteer Planning Commission is reaching out to residents for feedback as it looks to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan — a document that outlines the city’s vision and goals for the future.

A statute requires cities to update their comprehensive plans by June 2015. Newcastle last completed its Growth Management Act-mandated update in 2003.

It is just the beginning of what is expected to be a more than 20-month process to update the plan, but the Planning Commission wants it known from the start that public input is vital in working to shape a vision for the city’s next 20 years.

“We have about 28 months left until we are required to get this moved on and so it’s a long process,” Planning Commissioner John Drescher said. “It’s something that we welcome and encourage all Newcastle residents to be a part of as they are interested and able to be.”

The Planning Commission recently studied the Comprehensive Plan’s vision statement, and given that the plan was last updated 10 years ago, found that it didn’t necessarily reflect the city as it stands today.

One of the commission’s first tasks is to update the vision statement. Members plan to present their work at the March 5 Newcastle City Council meeting, which is also when the council is expected to discuss the commission’s work plan for the year.

The expectation is that the council will direct the Planning Commission to focus the bulk of the year’s work on updating the Comprehensive Plan. At the March 5 meeting, the commission and council will identify priority items and flag the more critical issues that need updating.

“We want to make sure that we think this through well, in a way that sets up our city for success in various ways,” Drescher said. “It’s not Bellevue and it’s not Renton. It’s small and I think that affords us some things that bigger cities don’t.”

Citizens are encouraged to attend Planning Commission meetings, which are at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month, where they can provide public comment about the Comprehensive Plan.

Once the commission is set up with a work plan for the year, members plan to get out into the community, give presentations and listen to opinions about what the Comprehensive Plan should entail.

“I think having a public process that values people’s time and allows them to give input on those issues that are close to them is something that we want to put in color,” Community Development Director Tim McHarg said.

McHarg stressed that this process is a prime opportunity for Newcastle residents to have a direct hand in the future of the city.

“There are a lot of new residents who weren’t around in 2003 to participate in the update process,” he said. “So, it’s important to get that new perspective to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of all different segments of the population, not just residents, but business owners, and people who spend time in Newcastle. They also have a stake in this as well.”

The Comprehensive Plan provides a blueprint of the city’s visions, conditions and community affairs. It’s a useful tool for city staff members and the council as they conduct city business, and is a valuable resource for businesses seeking to set up shop in Newcastle.

 

Get involved

The Planning Commission seeks public input as it begins to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan — a document that shapes the city’s vision for the future. The easiest way to get involved is to attend one of its meetings at 7 p.m. the third Wednesday at Newcastle City Hall, 12835 Newcastle Way, Suite 200.

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