Creating a roadmap

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COM-PLANoblesville 2

Community helps city develop new comprehensive master plan with PLANoblesville initiative

 

Noblesville officials listen to public inputs

Noblesville officials listen to public inputs

To update the City of Noblesville’s Comprehensive Master Plan, officials are asking for input from its greatest stakeholders – the public.

Titled “PLANoblesville,” this initiative will outline a vision and strategic framework for future development, redevelopment, and community building projects. In a series of workshops in the Noblesville East Middle School cafeteria, 300 N. 17th St., interested citizens and business owners took part in decisions that will shape the future of Noblesville. Participants identified challenges, opportunities and priorities to address within the plan.

“This is their plan, a way that they can have a first-hand say in what their property tax dollars go toward as well as comment about the city’s investment in certain areas of the community,” said Christy Langley, Noblesville Planning Dept. director. “We are here to serve the Noblesville people and although it gets filtered through a ‘planning lens’ if you will to consider potential issues or concerns, we want to reflect their hopes and desires for a community that they are literally vested in.”

Langley said a community’s comprehensive master plan sets public policy on transportation, utilities, land use, recreation and housing during short and long-term periods. The previous plan was prepared in 1995 and updated by the city in 2003.

“Given all of the opportunities and changes that have occurred in Noblesville in the past 10 years, a major update is needed,” she said, adding that citizens’ input also was gathered for previous updates. “Technology has come a long way in 10 years, so it happened a bit differently, but it very much happened.”

What’s next?

Noblesville Planning Dept. Director Christy Langley said the process will continue in a few ways. RW Armstrong is going to put together a sort of ranking survey to put online which will include ideas from the public meetings and ask for the general public’s comments. Then the consultants are going to combine all feedback from public meetings, stakeholder interviews, focus groups, etc., and outline what the citizen’s priorities seem to be. This is coupled with past plans, the 2010 Citizen Survey and many other items of information.

The Planning Committee, which is an interdepartmental group that includes the Noblesville Common Council and a few members from the plan commission (the group that makes decisions based upon the direction of the Comp Plan), are going to construct the goals, objectives and tasks. Finally, a draft of these items will be brought forth to another public meeting in October to get comment and a final document will go before council in late December/early January for adoption.

For more information about PLANoblesville, visit www.planoblesville.org or call the planning department at 776-6325.

The workshop, facilitated by consultants from RW Armstrong, provided an engaging and open dialogue with citizens and participating city officials.

“Everyone was respectful and open on all sides of the round table, and staff felt like there were very positive contributions, even in the instances where some participants disagreed on specific items,” Langley said.

Attendees participated in small group exercises and shared their ideas with the larger group. John and Helen Smith have lived in Noblesville for 15 years. John said the two do a lot of walking and were interested in hearing more about trails and other future plans.

“We’re interested in the good of the city and properties,” he said. “Senior citizens have ideas too.”

“I wanted to express my opinion about a bypass away from (Ind.) 32 for trucks,” Helen said.

Trails and connectivity were focused on by the group, and other areas of focus were economic development and job growth. The major focal point was downtown Noblesville and the presence of the river and building momentum around it.

Randy Schumacher shopped for a home in Carmel, Broad Ripple and Indianapolis before deciding on Noblesville.

“I found a cool old home to renovate, and I could afford,” he said. “To me, Noblesville was perfect – a beautiful downtown and historic homes.”

Schumacher knows what he is talking about. As an architect, Schumacher is helping both Carmel and Fishers design their downtowns, but said Noblesville holds the envy of surrounding cities. He suggests that the courthouse square needs revitalization and new housing downtown for young professionals.

“We’ve got to make it cool. We can build the Noblesville downtown to be as cool as the Carmel Arts District,” he said. “The surrounding neighbors would naturally improve and there would be improvement by the people who lived there.”

City Council member Rick Taylor also is a supporter of revitalizing downtown and the surrounding area.

“I think the city could do a little better about Old Town. As we move forward, we need to take a look at the proximity of downtown and outlying areas to help utilize the downtown feel,” he said. “We need to keep downtown vibrant and preserve it, and we need to reach out and make Old Town part of downtown.”

Taylor, who attended all the workshops, said participating residents came from two areas: those that moved here because of Old Town Noblesville and the square and those that have lived in the city for most of their lives.

“They’ve seen the changes the last 15 to 20 years and want to be involved in the next 15 to 20 years,” he said. “The feedback’s been great. We’re getting everybody’s ideas, and there’s a lot of things Noblesville residents are interested in. We can hear firsthand what’s really important to the community and business owners. This is a very beneficial time.”

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