Planning Commission to hold public hearing on comprehensive plan

By Patrick Fisher

The New Prague Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 5, to consider the city's proposed comprehensive plan update.

The hearing is one of the final steps of the planning process, which began last March. Ken Ondich, planner with the city of New Prague said the hearing will allow people to provide statements on the record regarding the draft for the proposed plan.

Much of the work on the plan was done by Joanne Foust of Municipal Development Group, Inc., a New Prague-based consulting firm hired by the city.

Ondich said a comprehensive plan is something each city needs before they can enact zoning ordinances. A comprehensive plan is intended to guide the growth and development, or redevelopment, of a city. It takes into consideration not only where a city develops, but also how it develops, and is also the basis for how the city will relate the needs of the market to demands for such things as utilities in an effort to develop in an efficient manner.

In developing the draft the city went through several processes, including a community survey, one-on-one interviews with a group of community leaders, including department heads and community business leaders, and public hearings. A series of hearings allowed for input from a cross section of community members, including residents, business operators and developers.

Another component of the planning process included meetings with the town boards of Helena and Lanesburgh townships, which border on the city, and from owners of land and developers anticipating future platting of land adjacent to the city.

The city and consultants also considered data from a variety of sources, including historical data from the city, Scott and Le Sueur counties, the Minnesota Workforce Center, Minnesota State Demographer’s Office and the U.S. Census.

There were also reviews of city ordinances and specific studies and of the city’s 2000 comprehensive plan. There was also an inventory of pertinent information, statistical data and existing structures.

A vision for the community

As part of the process, the plan integrates a vision statement for the community that addresses various aspects of growth.

The vision statement begins, New Prague will be a community that maintains a unique identity by recognizing its heritage while providing opportunities for residents to share and enjoy both rural and urban lifestyles.

The statement also lists what the different aspects of the city should provide, including:

• Maintaining a traditional Main Street as a destination for residents and visitors and a focal point for commerce and government.

• Parks and open space to provide places to recreate and play;

• Economic development efforts to help create a sustainable economy by balancing tax base and providing a wide range of employment, goods and services;

• Public utility and transportation systems to support the community’s current and future residents and businesses.

Guiding Principles

The plan also includes guiding principles that are to help the city, its leaders and residents.

The principles are:

• An atmosphere that captures the spirit of a small town.

• Housing that reflects a full range of choices.

• Downtown – A place for people to gather and preserve as the city’s central core.

• A well balanced tax base.

• A proactive position on future growth.

• An identify that reflects the place.

• Efficient infrastructure.

• Recreation for residents and visitors.

• A caring, learning environment.

• An atmosphere that encourages business development and redevelopment.

• A safe and efficient transportation system.

Ondich said that the city strives to make sure the plan will be able to cover changes for about 20 years, but it will look at it again in five years. Also, they will be prepared to take care of changes as they come.

The city last adopted a comprehensive plan in 2000, and that plan was supposed to last for 20 years. The city proceeded with an updated plan when the growth of the last few years had exceeded the growth envisioned by the 2000 plan.

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