David's Blog

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Stay Apprized of City’s Unfolding Comprehensive Plan – If You Snooze, You Lose

Irish poet Brendan Kennelly said it well: “To go fast, row slowly.” I was a member of the Duluth Rowing Club one summer, long ago, so I fully appreciate Kennelly’s statement. What appears to be a contradiction is, in fact, true – to go fast, one must row slowly. I would offer some additional advice: pull hard on the oar, never hesitate, and establish an unwavering cadence.

I am convinced that what works well in rowing also works well in advancing the City’s comprehensive planning process.

Those of us serving on the City’s Comprehensive Planning Committee have been rowing slowly, effectively, in cadence and without pause for the past eleven months. In that relatively short amount of time, we have made swift and noteworthy progress. Now we are convinced that the completion of our work will come at an ideal time: our community urgently needs the direction the comprehensive plan will provide.

As change places greater demands on our beloved community, we must ensure that Duluth remains – and expands on – all that is good here. The comprehensive plan provides a policy framework to guide both development and land use activity (e.g., housing, transportation [commercial and industrial], and recreation, in addition to the use of open space, natural resources and public facilities). Plans of this nature are generally valid for about twenty years. Duluthians will now have an opportunity to have their voices heard regarding issues that will affect not only today’s adults, but their children as well.

Specifically, the plan will be the fundamental tool used to provide guidance regarding such activities as overhauling the city’s outdated Zoning Ordinance; permanently protecting open space; prioritizing transportation and utility improvements; and locating areas suitable for development.

The time is soon approaching for Duluthians to review the status of our progress. Duluthians can determine if we have been doing a good job at the oar. The comprehensive plan will be completed this June, just five months from now. Before the plan is submitted to the Planning Commission and the City Council for approval, the Comprehensive Planning Committee members welcome citizens’ perspective and feedback.

Committee members are preparing drafts of our work. Goals, policies, and maps will be ready for dissemination at community forums scheduled for late February and early March. Citizens will soon be made aware of when and where to attend one of the community gatherings. Until then, they can stay apprized of the process by attending one of the Comprehensive Planning Committee meetings. Meetings are open to the public, and meeting dates are posted on the City of Duluth’s web site at www.duluthplan.com.

As a service to our Chamber members, we have arranged to have Bob Bruce, the city’s director of planning & development, present an overview of the comprehensive planning process at the Chamber’s March Economic Development Member Meeting. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 1 from 7:30am to 8:30am in the Technology Village’s Playground Theater, located on the Village’s lower level. Bob Bruce will illustrate how the business community will be impacted by the comprehensive plan. You will be glad you took the time to attend this timely and informative meeting. You can register by emailing inquiry@duluthchamber.com or by calling 722-5501.

In summary, I encourage all Duluthians to pay attention to the comprehensive planning process as it unfolds. Duluth is one of the most beautiful, panoramic cities in America. We enjoy an enviable combination of people, businesses, neighborhoods, woods, water and vitality. Moreover, Duluth is the regional hub for health care, higher education, tourism, retail and other industries. We must treasure what we have, while we carefully plan together for the future of our Zenith City.

We must not miss the opportunity to have our voices heard in this moment of decision.

posted by David Ross at

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