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My first priority on the Council has always been better planning for our city's future. We have a number of challenges that need to be addressed: quality of life, taxes, and development are three of the most important. One effort that has been underway that I have mentioned many times is Envision Garland, which will strongly impact each of those three challenges. This three-year process is reaching it's final stages. It will be addressed relatively soon at a public hearing of the Plan Commission. However, it is being presented in a number of open house events so Garland residents get the first looks.
For north Garland, there will be two opportunities Wednesday to review the pending proposal (see press release below). The first event was actually Saturday in south Garland, which I did attend. I encourage anyone slightly interested in what our community will look like in the future to attend either of the remaining sessions. I'll probably be at the mid-day session for a while but a scheduling conflict looks to keep me from the evening session. Scott Roberts, Plan Commission chairman and District 1 representative, does plan to be there. Between Scott and the staff members, there will be plenty of experienced and knowledgeable people on hand to answer questions.
City of Garland News Release:
Envision Garland Open House Events
The City of Garland will host a series of Open House events in November to showcase the Envision Garland plan’s content and how the community’s vision for the future can become reality. Envision Garland is the City’s new comprehensive plan which will serve as a guide for the physical and economic development of the community for the next twenty years.
Participants will have an opportunity to hear about the Envision Garland plan’s goals and content, see displays illustrating the vital neighborhoods and activity centers of the future, and share their thoughts and impressions of Garland’s future. The open house events will also present strategies on how the entire community can take action to turn its future vision into reality over the coming decades.
All open house events will provide the same information. The open house dates are:
Wednesday, November 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Atrium at the Granville Arts Center
300 North Fifth Street
Wednesday, November 17, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Naaman Forest High School
4843 Naaman Forest Boulevard
For more information about Envision Garland and the open house events, visit www.EnvisionGarland.org or call the information line at (972) 205-2865.
Envision Garland is a total rewrite of our comprehensive plan, our plan of how we expect our community to develop. Such plans are used to allocate resources and set community priorities. You can see why this is such a major undertaking and how it can have long-lasting affects on our community.
Another step that will follow approving a new comp plan is a rewrite of our development codes (zoning codes, building codes, minimum maintenance codes, and more). The zoning code will have a huge impact on how our community continues to develop and grow. We have about strangled all the life we can expect from our current use-based code that regulates uses (residential, retail, industrial, etc.) and separates them into zoning pods. First, with little room left to grow, the code is unsustainable in a physical and fiscal sense. Second, lifestyles are changing—the population is aging, families want more choices, energy efficiency will affect future choices, etc.—so new solutions must be sought and allowed.
Much of the country is already moving toward form-based codes, which regulate the design and form of development with much more tolerance toward use. Such codes are what allow the mixed-use projects that are springing up across the country (one such development in Rowlett was mentioned in Saturday's Dallas Morning News).
The first major American city to move to a citywide form-based code was Miami. In a four-year process that involved community and stakeholder meetings somewhat similar to Envision Garland, a new zoning code and comp plan, named Miami 21, was created and adopted. Miami's then-planning director, Ana Gelabert-Sanchez, was recently recognized by Governing magazine as a Public Official of the Year for that specific accomplishment.
"The real problem, she found, was the city's outdated, "one-size-fits-all" building code, which treated commercial property the same throughout the city, regardless of the surrounding buildings or neighborhood. So Gelabert-Sanchez began working with then-Mayor Manny Diaz on a new code. What they came up with was Miami 21, a form-based code that formally incorporates walkability, sustainability and neighborhood context for new development, as well as the preservation of existing structures.
These open house events for Envision Garland are the best way to get plugged into what Garland will become, designing how we will evolve. I hope you will put yourself into the picture!
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