The city’s newest comprehensive plan has officially been adopted as Delaware City Council unanimously voted to approve the plan during Monday’s meeting. Approval of the Delaware Together Comprehensive Plan wraps up three years of work that began in early 2018 and included the help of all aspects of the community.
A 31-person Steering Committee was selected by council to lead the plan’s development, and the plan took its shape based on the input of community stakeholders, city departments, city staff, elected officials, consultants, as well as the general public.
“I’d like to commend (Planning and Community Development Director) Dave (Efland) and his team and the Steering Committee for all of their hard work,” City Manager Tom Homan said Monday. “This is a very, very challenging (process) to do this type of thing, but to do it under these circumstances, they did an outstanding job. … This will really help our community grow in a positive way.”
Last month, Efland said of the Steering Committee, “Just an unbelievable group that has been focused and dedicated through this process, which we knew was going to be lengthy, involved and detailed. 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.”
Updated last in 2003, the city’s comprehensive plan was in need of a refresher to mirror the considerable changes the community has seen. During the second reading of the plan to council, Efland said a new plan was needed to respond to current development trends and growth pressures, incorporate updated information, address new planning issues, and to integrate new technologies and best practices.
“We have done an outstanding job, I think as a community, of managing growth through several decades at this point, and now planning for continuing to be a well-managed community while accepting growth and development where we want it and how we would like it within our community,” Efland said during the second reading.
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.
The goal of managing growth and change includes themes of encouraging infill and redevelopment, establishing focus areas for new development, and promoting housing options that include attainable and affordable housing.
In order to advance economic prosperity, Efland pointed to focus on marketing and branding, as well as supporting small businesses and encouraging mixed uses and flexible spaces as key themes.
To build social cohesion and equity, the plan highlights the need to make new residents feel welcome, make public spaces and events attractive and inviting to all, and recognize the community’s diversity as key themes.
Each objective is meant to feed into the plan’s overall goal of expressing the values and aspirations of the community, while serving as a long-term guide over the next 10-15 years of growth and development in the city, according to Efland.
Of course, a plan is just a plan, and implementation will be critical to the success of the plan in guiding Delaware forward. An implementation matrix is included in the plan that assigns responsibilities and timeframes for every action to ensure they are accomplished.
In addition to the comprehensive plan, the city’s thoroughfare plan has also been updated to ensure it works in conjunction with the comprehensive plan. Delaware’s thoroughfare plan was last updated in 2004.
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.