Peoria General plan proposal to be released to public

"And while city staff’s discussions are underway, Jacques clarified it is a work in process, and will be amended based on public input."

The city of Peoria is looking forward to its next 20 years of growth with a proposal to update its general plan.

The document, which was last updated in 2010, has since been reorganized, its land-use categories and map refined and its goal and policies updated.

The final plan will appear on the fall 2020 ballot.

But first, the initial concept will be released for public input Thursday, July 18. An open house will be held sometime after the 60-day input period. Staff will then create a working draft utilizing comments, after which it will return to the planning and zoning commission and city council.

“The general plan is the city’s foundational document that guides current and future growth decisions in the city,” Planning Director Chris Jacques told councilmembers. “It addresses all facets of growth; everything from land use to circulation, water and the like.”

Per state statute, general plans must be updated every 10 years. Cities with a population of greater than 50,000 residents must include 17 elements. The city of Peoria, however, intends to incorporate 22, Jacques said.

According to the city’s general plan website, planpeoriaaz.com, required elements are land use; circulation; open space; growth areas; environmental planning; cost of development; water resources; recreation; public services and facilities; public buildings; housing; conservation, rehabilitation and redevelopment; safety; bicycling; energy; and neighborhood preservation and revitalization.

Economic development, education, community wellness, arts and culture and library are optional, Jacques said.

Planned topics have been organized into six themes: economic prosperity; integrated transportation; smart growth; healthy neighborhoods; arts, cultural and recreational enrichment; and superior public services.

“One of the things we looked at when we looked at reorganizing the document is if it makes sense to organize those (elements) into six chapters,” Jacques explained. “Also, at the same time, the city is working on the livability initiative or the council goals, council priorities for the city as it moves into the future. And it happens to be that the essence of the council goals and the essence really of the general plan — who do we want to be in the future? — comes down to six topical areas.”

Beyond reorganization of the document itself, city officials have refined the land-use categories and, in turn, the related map. According to Jacques’ presentation, an emphasis is placed on character, form and function; a new master planned area category added; the mixed-use category and subtypes redefined; and residential categories refined.

“The directive from council a couple years ago is we wanted categories that were more descriptive in terms of the type, the scale and the form of development that we’re expecting. So, with these categories, aside from the naming conventions, they’re going to provide us a lot more direction and design parameters in terms of a closer fit as to what kinds of development, and what that development will look like and feel like as opposed to the current general plan,” Jacques explained.

And with the rise of the internet and decline of commercial development, Jacques added that the city is looking toward more mixed-use areas, where residential, commercial and employment opportunities will coexist.

According to the council agenda, Peoria’s document has received “modest adjustments” over the past nine years, though the upcoming modifications will be the most significant changes since 2010.

And while city staff’s discussions are underway, Jacques clarified it is a work in process, and will be amended based on public input.

“Just know that even though we’re talking about the 2019 cycle, invariably we’re going to continue to make changes to the document, refine where we need to and where it’s appropriate until the point where we ask the council to formally place it on the ballot for consideration by the voters,” he explained.

Council was not required to make a decision at this stage, though Mayor Cathy Carlat voiced her support of the refined document ahead of its release to the public.

“It’s really important that our citizens tell us what they want for the future of our city,” Carlat said. “We’re going to grow one way or the other. So let’s do it the smartest and best way that we can, and the way that meets the unique characteristics of our citizens and our city.”

For more information, visit planpeoriaaz.com.