At the May 6 meeting (agenda), Mayor Alan McGraw opened the meeting with a review of changes in the City over the last ten years, particularly population growth and increased demographic diversity, and issues that have emerged as challenges for the next decade. We now have campuses for ACC, Texas State and Texas A&M – what issues do college towns have? How will we house students, since Texas State is not planning on building dormitories? With the new hospitals, medical and nursing campuses, where would doctors, nurses and orderlies like to live?
Planning Director Jim Stendebach gave a presentation to explain the context of the General Plan 2020 (presenation powerpoint). The General Plan is the major policy document guiding land use, growth and development, particularly through the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances. One of the purposes of the General Plan is to incorporate aspects of other master plans (including the Strategic Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Downtown Redevelopment Plan, Parks Strategic Master Plan, Drainage Plan and Water & Wastewater Plan) for a coordinated approach to development.
Based on recommendations from the last General Plan, the City has revised the Zoning Ordinance to improve design standards for development, added minimum landscaping requirements, adopted a tree preservation ordinance, produced two neighborhood improvement plans and a yard parking ordinance to support older neighborhoods, and produced the Southwest Downtown Plan to guide redevelopment in this area and support it with street improvements (now under construction).
Some of our emerging challenges for the next decade are maintaining quality of older neighborhoods, accommodating economic and demographic changes in the community, historic preservation, improving quality of life and planning future land use patterns.
Planner Nat Strosberg summarized the results of the phone survey, which was taken last fall (see previous blog entry). The survey gives a statistically representative picture of Round Rock residents concerns regarding the city's emerging challenges, including historic preservation, community design, and the environment.
Nat then explained the evening’s focus group exercise, intended to indicate resident priorities and to identify any issues for discussion in the General Plan that may have been overlooked. Posters depicting potential issues were placed around the room to prompt discussion. Participants broke into groups to discuss the questions below, and later presented its findings to the others:
a) Describe the biggest changes in Round Rock, both positive and negative, over the past five years. (summary of responses)
b) Is Round Rock growing in a way that will make it an attractive and enjoyable place to live and/or work in 20 years? Why or why not? (summary of responses)
c) What specific issues related to what you heard today are of interest to you, and why? Are there other topics that you feel should be addressed in the general plan? (summary of responses)
d) Are there any additional thoughts or ideas that you feel are important from today’s discussion or that you would like addressed at subsequent hearings? (summary of responses)
The May 27 meeting will address citywide transportation, drainage and water conservation issues. The June 30 meeting will address community design, housing, historic preservation and neighborhood support.
There will be a wrap-up meeting on July 15. Whether or not you are able to attend these meetings, please share your thoughts with us here on the blog!