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College Station City Council discusses possible comprehensive plan changes

College Station City Council discusses possible comprehensive plan changes

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College Station City Council members are looking toward the future, considering on Thursday changes to the city’s comprehensive plan, and discussing the proposed fiscal year 2022 action plan and community development budget.

The 20-year comprehensive plan is the city’s long-term policy guide. It was adopted in 2009 and is in the process of being updated. The council indicated Thursday night that it would like to move forward with the proposed changes to the future land-use and character map, which is a major part of the comprehensive plan. There are still public input sessions to come before the council officially adopts any changes.

Alyssa Halle-Schramm, long-range planning administrator, said that the future land-use and character map is one of the items in the comprehensive plan that is most noticeable to the general public. It deals with land-use designations and what the future of the city’s property could look like, which sets up the development process.

Some of the proposed changes on the future land-use and character map include increasing the flexibility of current land-use categories and adding new land-use categories that open the door for different types of development.

A couple of the new land-use categories that are being proposed include one called “mixed residential” and another named “neighborhood center.” The first will allow a mix of housing types — such as duplexes, townhouses, smaller scale apartment complexes and standalone single-family homes — to all be blended into certain areas. The “neighborhood center” is what Halle-Schramm describes as the most intense land-use category. She said it is essentially a Century Square-style development in which there is a mixture of uses; for example, she said there could be a two-story building with office and retail space right by a single-story restaurant.

The process to update the comprehensive plan started in 2019 when community members weighed in on what changes they would like to see. Halle-Schramm said the public input sessions coming up in late July and early September will be a time for community members to confirm if they are happy with the way their input was applied to the plan. She said that there is still time for some adjustments to be made if residents are concerned about the proposed changes.

“This is the citizens’ plan for College Station,” Halle-Schramm said. “It’s not my plan. It’s not the department’s plan. It is the citizens’ plan for what the future College Station is and should be. So we definitely do want to hear everybody’s opinion to make sure what is being put forward and what the city council may adopt later this fall really does reflect the values and vision that the community has for itself.”

Halle-Schramm said that there are no dates set for the upcoming in-person public input sessions. There will also be an online feedback option that will include an interactive map where people can make comments. The map will be launched at the end of July at cstx.gov/TheNext10.

The council will consider adopting the comprehensive plan and its maps in October.

The city council also indicated that it supported the proposed fiscal year 2022 annual action plan and community development budget. There is still time for the community to weigh in on the matter before it is adopted.

The annual action plan describes projects, activities and a budget to be funded with community development grants that the city receives. This year, the city has about $2.04 million of federal grant funds to spend. The projects that are funded must benefit low- and moderate-income people and correspond to the five-year consolidated plan, which the city created last year.

Many funds last year were adjusted to be put primarily toward needs such as rental assistance to help people facing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Director of Community Services Debbie Eller said that this year, the action plan is returning to normal with a wider array of items including a facade improvement program for business owners, shaded seating for a bus stop and replacing playground equipment at the Lincoln Recreation Center.

“We have a very broad budget this year,” Eller said. “We’re going to be touching affordable housing, home repair assistance, economic development, rental assistance, public service agency funding, public facility activities. I’m excited about this budget, because we’re able to touch so many areas of the community through these programs and these funds.”

There will be a public hearing about the action plan on July 6 at the Lincoln Recreation Center at 6 p.m. Eller said that a 30-day public comment period just began as well. The action plan is accessible at cstx.gov.

The City Council will consider adopting the action plan at a July 22 meeting. and city staff will send the information to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by Aug. 16.

Go to blog.cstx.gov to view all presentations from Thursday night’s meeting.

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