A nearly three-year process to complete the city’s newest comprehensive plan is almost finished as the Delaware Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend its adoption during a meeting Wednesday. The plan, which was last updated in 2003 and serves as a blueprint of sorts for the city’s future, will now go before Delaware City Council for adoption.
Work on the Delaware Together Comprehensive Plan began early in 2018, and the final touches were finished earlier this year. A 31-person Steering Committee was selected by council to lead the plan’s development, and Planning and Community Development Director Dave Efland said the plan evolved with the input of a “who’s who” of community members that included stakeholders and city departments, city staff, elected officials, consultants and the general public.
Efland gave high praise to the Steering Committee’s commitment to the task, which was already going to be difficult enough prior to the pandemic further complicating the process.
“Just an unbelievable group that has been focused and dedicated through this process, which we knew was going to be lengthy, involved and detailed,” Efland said. “But nobody could have foreseen that the process would also involve and revolve around a global pandemic, forcing us to rethink some of the things we had originally thought about in terms of the strategy of reaching out to our public and even meeting with our Steering Committee.”
Efland pointed to the level of change that has come to the Delaware community as one of the main reasons a new comprehensive plan was necessary. “There’s been a lot of change in our community, a lot of change in the region with more to come, so we needed to develop data and develop a new plan in a new way for our future,” he said.
Six objectives were outlined at the onset of the plan’s development. Those goals include managing growth and change, advancing economic prosperity, building social cohesion and equity, promoting housing quality and variety, ensuring fiscal sustainability, and leveraging resources, infrastructure and amenities.
Efland called the social cohesion and equity objective “a unique chapter in a city’s comprehensive plan” and one that is “timely” and “maybe overdue” in plans around the country. “It really puts us on the cutting edge of planning and this particular issue,” he said.
Following the vote, Chairman Stacy Simpson, who also served on the Steering Committee, called the plan’s eventual approval “a very exciting moment for the city of Delaware.”
The comprehensive plan will be before council for its first reading at the next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, April 12. It is expected the plan will be given three readings before being adopted during the council meeting on May 10.
Of course, even after the plan is adopted by council, the work has only just begun as the city works to implement it. However, Efland said the plan is “a bit of a paradigm shift” for the community, and it will get the city focused in several areas around the community.
Efland added he hopes the plan, along with the help of the development community, will work to provide “more attainable and more affordable housing” that will continue the city’s history of providing a variety of housing opportunities within the community.
A video detailing the objectives of the Delaware Together Comprehensive Plan and the process it took to put it together, along with a link to the executive summary of the plan, can be found on the City of Delaware’s Facebook page. The plan can also be accessed by visiting www.delawaretogether.net.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.