For the first time in more than a decade, the city of Denison has updated one of its major planning documents to reflect the city’s position and expected future growth in the 21st century.
The Denison Planning and Zoning Commission formally recommended on Tuesday that the city council adopt the new comprehensive plan. The document, which was last updated in 2002, outlines future projected growth and preferred land use for the city, among other building blocks for development.
“A comprehensive plan guides everything a city does, including building infrastructure, providing services, regulating development and adopting ordinances,” the document says in its introduction.” “It supports the long-term financial health of a city, helping the city prioritize expenditures, provide public services at a reasonable cost and maximize the city tax base.”
The documents outline current and expected land use, growth and other aspects of Denison’s development for the foreseeable future. Denison P&Z Manager Steven Doss said the documents typically are updated by a city about every ten years. However, Denison’s plan was last amended 16 years ago.
City officials have previously said growth at the time did not necessitate it.
The Denison of 2002 is significantly different from that of the Denison of 2018. While the 2002 plan showed the building blocks for some current and future developments, others, including Gateway Village and Texoma Health Foundation Park, were not present.
Doss said the previous plan looked typical of many cities at the turn of the century with large areas designated for industrial and business as major drivers for the community. However, Doss said the recession of 2008 and 2009 shifted the market for many cities, Denison included.
The new plan better outlines current demands, with areas designated for more residential and mixed-use development, Doss said. In some areas that were previously designated for commercial and retail uses that never fully developed, the plan incorporates redevelopment corridors as a way to encourage new uses, including mixed-use developments, Doss said.
“We have a lot of corridors that are really heavily developed for commercial that are mostly vacant or abandoned, even,” Doss said. As an example for this, Doss said portions of State Highway 91 and Austin Avenue as listed as redevelopment corridors.
In other changes to the document, Doss said some aspects of the document were simplified. In the previous version, the plan outlined expected uses for individual parcels. This practice also had a wide variety of use categories — close to 15 — that designated these uses.
Under the new plan, Doss said the city has reduced this to seven primary development categories.
“The comprehensive plans really is a 30,000-foot view of the city at full development,” Doss said. “The problem with the 2002 plan is that it is a 30,000-foot view where you can zoom in to a single lot.”
As an example, Doss said many residential uses would fall into what is now considered “neighborhood” development. For specific uses, Doss said a set of criteria is developed for their needs. For multifamily or apartment developments, Doss said the plan would outline the development’s needs and determine if an area is suitable.
“You can’t just look at the map and get the vision of Denison,” Doss said.
“We are taking a step back from the parcel … and being more responsive to what the market needs,” Doss continued.
Similarly, the land use plan continues this trend with commercial and retail development. Instead of specifically designating some corridors for commercial growth, it lists smaller hubs that the city feels could support these uses.
“The current plan has seven land uses and uses three colors,” Doss said. “The old map has 15 uses and 15 colors.”
Additionally, Doss said the new update reflects changes to the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and areas outside the city proper. While the 2002 ETJ extended one mile outside the city, the recent growth now allows the ETJ to extend for two miles beyond the city’s border. Doss said this mainly affects areas to the east, as the borders for other cities sit in other directions.
For Tuesday’s meeting, the P&Z commission met later in the day to allow residents to attend and respond to the proposed plan. Doss said that the public weighed in on the changes throughout the process and this change was made to allow one last chance for input. However, the meeting did not attract any members of the public.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the recommendation in a 4-0 vote with Chairman Charles Shearer absent for the meeting.
“Thank you, Steven, for your work on this,” Commissioner Brett Evans said. “I think this will be a valuable tool as we consider the cases that will be coming before us.”
Doss said he is hopeful that more members of the public show up when the plan is presented to the city council for final approval in November.