October 12, 2012 10:37:04 AM
After more than three years of discussion, the Columbus Comprehensive Plan should be approved before Thanksgiving.
Columbus City Planner Christina Berry said a public hearing will be held to discuss the plan on Nov. 1. The Columbus City Council is expected to adopt the plan at the hearing.
"This is the final stage before the plan can be implemented," Berry said. "It had to be approved by the planning commission and now it will go to a public hearing and the council will more than likely adopt the plan after the hearing."
According to Berry, the comprehensive plan is a combination of vision, maps, development policies and design guidelines. The adopted plan will be used for private and public development for the city.
"The plan will be based on the community's vision for its own future--a long-term vision that may not be achievable in the near future," Berry said. "Nevertheless, the plan will look ahead, focus on the physical form of the city, and strive to shape development of public and private properties within Columbus's planning area."
Berry said major goals covered in the plan include connecting the city through pedestrian and bicycle rights of way, a green or environmentally sound infrastructure, and continuing to direct economic development towards downtown, Highway 45 and Highway 182.
"Like all communities, Columbus is dependent upon infrastructure for its well-being," Berry said. "Most people, when considering "infrastructure," will first envision roads, utilities and perhaps a variety of buildings as well. But, a community's green infrastructure is often overlooked. Columbus's green infrastructure consists of the Tenn-Tom Waterway, Columbus Lake and the Luxapallilla Creek, local ponds, wetlands and flood plains, the community's tree canopy, its prime agricultural soils and its parks and recreational lands.
"These resources affect the economy, overall quality of life and the health and safety of residents. If the city's green infrastructure is not respected, quality of life in Columbus may suffer."
Although the comprehensive plan is still a few weeks from being adopted by the council, Berry said some elements of the plan already have been implemented.
"We have already started doing some things that are suggested in the plan," Berry said. "For instance, the over-lay district on the Highway 45 corridor is something we are currently doing."
The public hearing will be held Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. in the City Hall courtroom. Copies of the comprehensive plan are available for viewing at Berry's office, the Columbus-Lowndes Library and online at cdispatch.com.
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