Leander begins crafting comprehensive plan; first open house is Feb. 19

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Fiscally sustainable.

Those were just five of the adjectives submitted during a brainstorming session among who will probably be the biggest influencers in the creation of Leander’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan.

The joint meeting Jan. 16 included members of Leander City Council; the planning and zoning commission; and the comprehensive plan advisory committee, a newly formed volunteer group of 16 residents and stakeholders.

Jordan Maddox of Halff Associates, the consulting firm hired by the city to help facilitate the new plan’s creation, asked members of the three groups to write a word or phrase that they would most like Leander to be in the future.

The 30 residents submitted 24 different suggestions—a diversity of vision that city officials say is needed to create an effective comprehensive plan.

“We hope our planning efforts will have a lasting impact on the city, but it can’t be done in a vacuum,” Planning Director Robin Griffin said. “Our entire community benefits by having engaged citizens.”

Created every five years by law, a comprehensive plan serves as a road map for future development, deciding the location and scope of projects such as roads, residences and commercial development, according to the city.

A comprehensive plan can also influence residential and commercial property values, for better or worse.

As a result, the city has enlisted residents, who will have to live with the plan’s effects, and stakeholders, such as developers and other employers, who are economic drivers for the city.

“Balancing the needs and desires of our residents with those of Leander’s developers and investors will always be a constant challenge,” Griffin said.

The previous comprehensive plan is often used as a starting point for a new one, according to officials.

“Leander will receive a brand-new plan document in 2020,” Maddox said. “There are elements of the prior plan effort generated by the community that we can certainly build on.”

Looking back on 2015

Leander’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan was approved by Leander City Council on Oct. 15, 2015.

Griffin served as planning director during the last comprehensive plan. She said the 2015 plan got most things right. It preserved areas around major intersections for higher-density developments and made Old Town a priority.

But no plan is perfect.

“Properties around Ronald Reagan Boulevard have developed much faster than we anticipated in 2015,” she said. “We are working to preserve commercial opportunities in this area and sustain the infrastructure needed to accommodate new growth amid a red-hot residential market.

“It’s hard to predict the future,” she said.

2020 committee members

Composed of 16 volunteers, the comprehensive plan advisory committee includes residents from each of the city’s seven places, or districts, as well as representatives from entities as diverse as the arts and economic development.

The advisory committee is holding five meetings: two open houses for the public and three workshops. The City Council and planning and zoning commission intend to co-host five joint meetings, according to the city.

The first advisory committee and joint meetings took place in January, with the first open house for the public scheduled from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at SouthStar Bank, 10737 E. Crystal Falls Parkway, Leander.

A poll that aims to gauge residents’ priorities is available online through March 10 at www.leandertx.gov.

“Everyone has a stake in how we plan for Leander’s future,” Griffin said. “There are several opportunities to participate in this process, and we hope that everyone takes the time to do so.”
By Brian Perdue
Brian Perdue is the editor of the Lake Travis-Westlake and Northwest Austin editions of Community Impact Newspaper. A native of Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, he has been a journalist since 1992, living and working in Virginia, Washington D.C., Hawaii's Big Island, Southern California and Florida before moving to Austin in 2019.


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