New Braunfels’ comprehensive plan nears completion

 Several stakeholders were involved in the process of developing New Braunfelsu2019 most recent comprehensive plan, which could receive final approval from City Council after a second reading Aug. 27.

Several stakeholders were involved in the process of developing New Braunfelsu2019 most recent comprehensive plan, which could receive final approval from City Council after a second reading Aug. 27.

Image description
The making of the plan
Image description
NBF-2018-08-20-1
Image description
Growth and future land use
Image description
Urban design and cultural, heritage and historic preservation
Image description
Transportation
Image description
Economic competitiveness
Image description
Tourism
Image description
Education and youth
Image description
Natural resources and infrastructure
Image description
Parks, recreation and open space
Image description
Facilities, services and capital improvements
For nearly two years the city of New Braunfels has worked to create the Envision New Braunfels comprehensive plan that, once approved by City Council, will impact everything the city does during the next 15 to 20 years.

The creation of the plan, which serves as a non-regulatory framework document that future city initiatives will feed off of, involved input from more than 8,800 stakeholders.

“It’s based on intense citizen engagement,” said Christopher Looney, the city’s planning director. “We wanted to get everyone together in our community in different formats and conversations to learn what they would like to see in New Braunfels and take that information, and then that becomes the comprehensive plan.”

Ian Perez, a six-year New Braunfels resident who served on the transportation advisory group for the plan, said he saw his participation as a chance to help lay the groundwork for the city’s future.

“It’s going to change the direction of everything,” he said. “The opportunity to engage and be part of that should be important to anybody who is living here or working here or wants to be part of anything in New Braunfels.”

Through the assistance of a consulting firm, nine key areas were identified to be addressed in the comprehensive plan based on the city’s unique characteristics.

“Our areas are different than, say, El Paso’s might be,” Looney said.

From there, citizen-composed advisory groups were formed surrounding each topic, and anyone with an interest to participate was welcomed to join. A nine-member steering committee oversaw the entire process, and information was also collected through public events and online surveys.

Ron Reaves is a former City Council member and previous New Braunfels ISD superintendent who oversaw the steering committee. He said the group helped refine the wording from citizen comments to identify goals. Each goal was targeted to meet elements in a set of plan strategies.

“What is it that makes [New Braunfels] great now, and will make it even better down the road? And to maintain that sense of community during that aspect of time,” Reaves said. “...  I think that’s a lot of what this comprehensive plan is all about.”

Highlights from the plan


The location and density of commercial and residential development are key elements in the plan.

“A new future land-use plan is what seems to be really important right now,” Looney said. “... We have historically in New Braunfels had a more traditional land-use map that was real explicit, and so it looks like the guidance from the community is something a little bit more flexible to accommodate the speed with which we’re
growing.”

According to Looney, all nine advisory groups mentioned sidewalks as a key focus area.

“I think they’re thinking about connectivity and being able to get safely from one place to another.”

Leveraging more citywide partnerships to arrive at solutions is another initiative citizens would like to see more of, and the plan also stresses regional collaboration.

“When we think about a comprehensive plan, people think it’s just the city, but it’s more than that; it’s everyone,” Looney said. “... We’re collaborating with each other, whether that’s economic development or growth or transporation—we can work together.”

The city’s parks and natural resources are another priority called out by community members, with an expressed desire to increase the number of parks per capita. Affordable housing is also outlined in the plan, but Looney said ideas surrounding that initiative remain to be identified.

What happens next?


On July 9, Looney gave a presentation of the plan to City Council. The first formal reading will take place Aug. 13,  after Community Impact Newspaper’s print deadline. Looney said it is likely the plan will receive approval after the second reading Aug. 27. If that happens, the implementation process will begin, and the document will be updated every five years for fine-tuning.

Several elements from the plan  could be implemented right away, such  as amending the city’s zoning, platting, sign and parking ordinances; revisiting the extraterritorial jurisdiction policy; updating the regional thoroughfare plan; conducting a historic property survey; and looking at sub-area corridor plans.

A 2019 bond initiative is also in the works, and the comprehensive plan could help determine those projects.

According to Reaves, if the bond passes, it would help bring the goals outlined in the comprehensive plan to fruition faster.

“Whether the bond issue passes or not, the things that are in the comprehensive plan are still things that the community envisions that they want for the next 15 or 20 years,” Reaves said. “The bond issue is just one mechanism to bring about some of those things. ... It’s the sparkplug, but it’s not the sole source.”

Reaves said City Council would have to approve the bond initiative in February for it to be considered in a May election.

A complete plan draft can be viewed at  www.envisionnewbraunfels.org.

“It’s very readable,” Looney said. “We’ve had a lot of comments about its readability. It’s not loaded with a bunch of jargon.”
By Rachel Nelson
Rachel Nelson is editor of the New Braunfels edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covers local business, new development, city and county government, health care, education and transportation. Rachel relocated to Central Texas from Amarillo in 2009 and is a graduate of Texas State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


MOST RECENT

Mortgage purchase applications are down year over year, but the Austin housing market remains hot. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin housing market still hot but showing signs of slowing down

Experts say that a decrease in mortgage purchase applications points to “a reversion back to norm” in the Austin housing market.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

The closure will allow New Braunfels Utilities crews to install bore pits beneath the Union Pacific Railroad tracks as part of the work to install the 24-inch water line along Castell Avenue. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Portion of Castell Avenue to be closed in New Braunfels beginning July 26

The closure will allow New Braunfels Utilities crews to install bore pits beneath the Union Pacific Railroad tracks as part of the work to install the 24-inch water line along Castell Avenue.

The office provides in-home care to residents throughout Central Texas. (Courtesy Meredith Clark)
HomeWell Care Services now open in New Braunfels

The office provides in-home care to residents throughout Central Texas.

Travis County has been discussing the possibility of a new Samsung facility with Samsung since January. (Community Impact Staff)
Travis County begins incentives negotiations with Samsung for possible $17B facility

Samsung is hoping to finalize a performance agreement by mid-August, which would include information about how the potential facility would affect property taxes.

The apartments are expected to open in fall of 2022. (Courtesy New Braunfels Food Bank)
Apple Seeds Apartments to provide training, affordable housing to New Braunfels residents

"It's a much bigger movement and work than just 51 apartments run by the food bank," said Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank. The apartments are expected to open in fall of 2022.

Massey Wallace and her husband, Allen Wallace, will open a seventh location of Lonestar Kolaches at the former Little Red Wagon in October. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lonestar Kolaches coming to Round Rock; Kilwins sweet shop to open in Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area, such as the Williamson County judge doubting more shutdowns as coronavirus rates increase.

A resident of EdenHill Communities receives the last dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
Comal County active COVID-19 case count tops 400 as area vaccination rates remain near 50%

More than 290 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases have been reported by Comal County since July 12 as hospitalizations rise.

The store sells overstock and returned items that drop in price each day. (Courtesy New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce)
Bin Drop now open in New Braunfels

The store sells overstock and returned items that drop in price each day.

Texas native Amy Hageman founded Texas Tiny Pools in 2017. (Courtesy Cate Black Photography)
Texas Tiny Pools now serving Austin area; Round Rock movie theater closes and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Austin resident Cristina Guajardo, and council member Vanessa Fuentes spoke at a press conference regarding the expanded Child Tax Credit. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Families receive monthly payments beginning July 15 from increased child tax credit

Parents of children under 17 will receive monthly payments of up to $300 beginning July 15, due to an expanded Child Tax Credit.