Jefferson City is nearing the end of a multi-year process to determine the city’s direction through 2040.
The city makes a comprehensive plan every 20 years to provide a vision going forward for administration, local organizations and nonprofits to refer to.
The last phase of developing the new plan is receiving input from the people of Jefferson City. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced challenges to that process.
City administration had planned to host an open house last Thursday but canceled it because of the pandemic.
Ahnna Nanoski, a planner with the city’s Department of Planning and Protective Services who has been working on the comprehensive plan, said this was the second open house planned. The first one went virtual in January.
“Traditionally, at these types of open houses, there are a bunch of poster boards around the room,” she said. “People come and go, they read some of the contents of the comprehensive plan, and they can comment on them. We’ve not been able to do that.
“We ended up just canceling the February one because the impact of the virtual option wasn’t great. We just think our efforts could be used more productively.”
Nanoski hopes to have an open house March 25.
In the meantime, there are poster boards set up on the first floor of City Hall that discuss the comprehensive plan. There’s also a survey and a copy of the plan on the city’s website where people can provide feedback.
Nanoski said she hasn’t received much public feedback on the plan yet.
“We would really like to see more public participation,” she said. “The stakeholder participation has been very strong, and understandably, people have a lot of things going on right now. It’s hard to think about what’s going to happen in a month, let alone what’s going to happen in 20 years.”
Nanoski said she’d like to hear from residents about whether they think the goals and strategies within the plan are appropriate for Jefferson City’s future and if they think there’s anything missing.
The city is also holding a photo contest, called “Love Where You Live,” to collect pictures from around the city to be included in the final draft of the plan.
Residents can also submit photos for the contest on the city’s website.
This plan includes a category it hasn’t in the past: capital culture and healthy living.
“The 1996 comprehensive plan did talk about parks and recreation, but it didn’t talk about things like historic preservation or crime and safety or public art,” Nanoski said. “Those are topics that us in the planning world emphasize more now because they support quality of life.”
Part of what keeps people in an area or makes people want to move is the amenities, arts and culture of the area, she continued.
The plan also discusses housing and neighborhoods, economic development, transportation, environmental resilience and land use.
These are topics, Nanoski said, the city will always need to think about.
The housing chapter focuses on creating equitable housing that is “appropriate for your lifestyle and for your income, because no matter who you care, you could still be housing burdened,” she said.
Economic development is focused on attracting and retaining residents and visitors.
The transportation chapter focuses on encouraging multiple modes of transportation in the city and that they connect people with where they need to go.
Environmental resiliency discusses stormwater management, sustainability and natural disasters.
“Those have all been major topics, specifically in Jefferson City,” Nanoski said.
The land use chapter focuses on improving the quality of life within the city, ensuring existing buildings don’t deteriorate and promoting local or small-scale development.
Nanoski started working on the plan in 2019. The first step was community input, then taking that input to put it into a plan.
“Everyone wants to strengthen the community, but what does that look like?” she said. “This helps kind of outline that vision.”
For more detail about Jefferson City’s draft comprehensive plan, visit newstribune.com/comprehensiveplan-draft.