The City of Caldwell is embarking on a project called a Comprehensive Master Plan to guide the city on growth and development over the next 20 years. This plan is created with your help! The residents of Caldwell are going to have a role in shaping the vision of the plan. By your participation and information on what you want to see in happen in Caldwell. Our partnership with Texas A&M’s, Texas Target Communities (TxTC) and the City of Caldwell will create a blueprint to create Caldwell’s Tomorrow!
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Together, Let’s make life well in Caldwell!
What is a comprehensive plan?
A comprehensive plan is a policy document, guiding the future of the city for the next 20-30 years and a blueprint for future government action. It should serve as a road map between the community aspirations and the real-world implementation for those aspirations. It can be the central organizing umbrella under which other plans, regulations, and initiatives exist. It is also the basis for codes of ordinances, and guidance of city policies. The comprehensive plan establish’s an overall vision for the community and includes a plan for physical growth, development, and preservation of the land within the planning area. It includes goals, objectives, and action steps to ensure that future development and growth is consistent with the community’s vision. It is concerned with land use, transportation, public facilities, infrastructure, natural and environmental resources, housing, socioeconomic issues, economic development, and fiscal aspects of community growth and change.
It may be used to:
- Communicate the overarching vision;
- Guide development approvals by representatives such as elected officials;
- Serve as a basis for regulations such as subdivision regulations, building codes, etc.;
- Inform and support the capital improvement plan
Why do cities plan?
Planning is a proactive process that establishes goals and policies for directing and managing future growth and development. Local agencies plan in order to prepare for future changes and address fundamental issues. Planning also helps account for future demand for services/capacity. In addition, planning:
- Saves Money. Good planning can save on infrastructure and essential service costs.
- Sets Expectations. Planning establishes the ground rules for development. A comprehensive master plan, for example, sends a clear signal that accepted standards and procedures apply to community development. This will not eliminate conflicts entirely, but at least sets expectations that can help minimize conflict.
- Improves Economic Development and Quality of Life. Businesses want to locate in communities where their employees want to live. Planning outlines alternatives and choices so that the community can promote employment and economic well-being.
- Provides a Forum for Reaching Consensus. Planning processes, such as the development of the general plan, provide a forum for seeking community consensus. Planning efforts should always involve broad and diverse segments of the community to assure that the resulting plan fully addresses community needs.
- Establishes a Sense of Place. Planning ensures that architectural and aesthetic elements are incorporated into projects to establish a sense of place and connect people to places they enjoy.
- Protects Property Values. Property values are enhanced when a community plans for parks, trails, playgrounds, transit, and other amenities. Planning also protects property values by separating incompatible land uses. Imagine if a factory could just set up shop in the middle of a neighborhood. Planning assures that this will not occur.
- Reduces Environmental Damage and Conserves Resources. Planning helps identify important natural and cultural resources and can channel development in a way that protects or augments these resources.
- Helps obtain grants. Many funders expect plans developed by consensus in the community which outlines specific needs and goals. The city of Nolanville attributes receiving $2 million (after two years) because they had a detailed and thoughtful plan.
- Is required by law if there is a Zoning Code of Ordinances.
Who uses a comprehensive plan?
- Citizens (residents, business owners, developers) use the Plan to submit development and zoning proposals to the city.
- City staff (Planning and Development Services) use the Plan to provide land use and sometimes zoning recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission, the plan will also assist in parks and recreation, community and economic development, and many other elements of quality of life.
- Boards and Commissions (citizens appointed by City Council) use the Plan to provide policy recommendations to the City Council.
- City Council (elected by citizens) use the Plan to guide policy decisions regarding land use, zoning, and to develop regulations.
What is the purpose for Planning?
Planning for future growth is a vital endeavor for any community to undertake. A comprehensive plan provides the opportunity to guide this growth in a manner that provides lasting value. As years pass, such an effort is critical to achieve and maintain a desirable community character. However, certain challenges exist that go beyond the ability of this plan alone to resolve. These challenges include:
- The explosive growth of Brazos Valley. Increased growth beyond Caldwell’s planning area will impact the transportation network within the community, which means increased traffic on city roads including major roads leading into the community. While transportation improvements will lessen the impact, it is still uncertain how and where growth might occur. With the recent expansion of Texas A&M University System’s (TAMU) RELLIS Campus, growth coming from the east is expected to have impacts on development in Caldwell.
- Market forces. Caldwell, like much of Central Texas in general, is a highly desirable area with a thriving economy and good public schools. Caldwell is also ideally situated to Bryan/College Station, Houston, and Austin thereby increasing the community’s desirability. As a result, people will continue to move to the city, which in turn decreases housing supply and increases demand. While planning tools exist to increase the supply of affordable housing, the cost of housing will continue to rise overall Caldwell and Burleson County.
- Rural Small Town form. The majority of the city’s housing stock exists in a conventional rural small town form with a Downtown, two main highways and main large lot residential areas. With increased development coming to Caldwell, means the likelihood of suburban sprawl and disconnected single-use neighborhoods. In order to keep the small town and rural atmosphere the city will need to use the plan to help show the type of development and design that would like to be seen in the community.
- Timing of the plan. The Comprehensive Master Plan is a way for Cities to get ahead of the growth and make a guide that can help manage progress and change at a steady pace. With the knowledge that growth and change will be in Caldwell sooner rather than later, the city feels that this is the ideal time to begin this process and make improvements to better prepare.
The Planning Process
The Planning process is an on going process for the City, this is just the beginning. A Comprehensive Master Plan will begin in the planning and outreach stage and last for the next year and a half. Once the City Council adopts the plan the next stage is the implementation, this is a continuous phase for the plan and drives the overall day-to-day actions for the future of the City. Every few years the plan will be evaluated, this is to determine if the plan is meeting the overall vision of the community. After this stage the plan will continue to be monitored and evaluated with an update every 10-20 years.
- Phase 1: State of Community Report – this report looks at the city’s existing conditions and helps the city and residents gather a basis for the data and information currently in the community.
- Phase 2: Public Engagement and Outreach – this is a critical element to the planning process and is a consistent piece to creating the plan. A representative task force team that is diverse and consists of community leaders and key stakeholders. The task force will be selected by the consultant (TxTC) and participate in meetings with the planning team and citizens.
- Due to COVID-19 the majority of the meetings will be virtual through Zoom and Facebook Live.
- Phase 3: Visioning and Goals – this process focuses on the vision of the community based on the feedback from the public, which will help identify the goals, objectives, and actions for the plan.
- Phase 4: Prioritization of Strategies – this element is to help create specific priority’s that are driven from the community members and discussed with city leaders.
- Phase 5: Adoption of the Plan – before the plan can be used as a guide for development and policy the City Council must adopt the plan.
- Phase 6: Implementation – after adopting the plan staff will use the plan as the overall guide for the future.
- Phase 7: Evaluation – Every 3-5 years the plan will be evaluated to ensure that the strategies laid out in the plan are being accomplished and are still in line with the community’s needs.