Plano Tomorrow's web-based plan outlines policies and direction that the city council can refer to and follow for the next 20 to 30 years. The plan covers subjects vital to the city’s success, such as land use, housing, city services and transportation, said Christina Day, Plano planning director. If approved, the City Council is expected to approve it in October, according to city officials.
This will also be the commission’s third time considering the Plano Tomorrow plan. The first draft was completed in November, and the city has held a series of public workshops to solicit feedback since then.
“We have received feedback and comments at each of our outreach sessions that have impacted the plan and changes have been made to the plan,” Day said.
For a timeline of the Plano Tomorrow Plan, click here.
After a public workshop on May 21, the commission made changes to the plan stating a preference for single-family housing in neighborhoods and neighborhood centers, Day said. The plan now clarifies that transit-oriented residential areas should be within a quarter to a half-mile walking distance from a rail station. According to the current draft of Plano Tomorrow, transportation-oriented, mixed-use and self-contained high-rise developments are not considered appropriate within Expressway Corridors, Day said.
“The benefit of this plan is that it focuses on current conditions of Plano. We are no longer a fast-growing city where we are adding tens of thousands of people over a short period of time,” she said. “Our region is very different as compared to back in the '80s.”
The aim of the plan is to give a set of general guidelines and policies for City Council members to follow when making decisions related to specific development projects.
“It is a visionary document that is intended to provide a larger guidance so that we have a common core of values that influence our decision making for the good of the community,” Day said. “Our neighborhoods are our core focus—how you approach that is a little different when you are maintaining and revitalizing neighborhoods rather than building new ones.”
A group of roughly 40 residents have opposed certain aspects of the plan pertaining to land use. The group, Plano Future, argues that the plan’s allowance for multifamily developments throughout the city could have negative effects on schools, as well as on first responders.
With pressure from developers mounting as the demand for housing increases, Plano is focusing its attention on smaller plots of commercially zoned land to provide additional housing. A housing study conducted by the city’s Planning Department last year found that less than 1 percent of undeveloped land in Plano is zoned residential, leading to the amendment of unused commercial land zoning allowing for apartments and townhomes.
Plano Future member Allan Samara said the city should be more strategic in its zoning ordinances to continue fostering economic growth and be choosier when it comes to incorporating new housing into Plano’s historically suburban landscape.
“Right now, our fight is to get this plan put in shape before it goes before City Council. We want to delay it [and] have a renewal about their ideas about high-density, urban apartments in the city,” Samara said. “It is neither a good argument that these high-density apartments are good for police and fire response, nor that they are going to help our schools. These [residents will be] non-stakeholders for the city of Plano and we need more stakeholders.”
For information about the Plano Tomorrow Plan, visit www.planotomorrow.org. For information about Plano Future, visit www.planofuture.org.