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Council continues to review comprehensive plan

North Maple Street as seen through the Roundhouse Sculpture in front of Creston's Restored Depot should be a focus of renewal in Creston's comprehensive plan, councilmember Matt Levine said.
North Maple Street as seen through the Roundhouse Sculpture in front of Creston's Restored Depot should be a focus of renewal in Creston's comprehensive plan, councilmember Matt Levine said.

The Creston city council continued to discuss the proposed comprehensive plan at its Nov. 3 meeting. Council members were to have read chapters 4 through 7 and present thoughts or possible changes to the plan.

After the council has reviewed the entire plan, it will vote on whether or not to adopt it. Once adopted, the ideas in the plan do not change existing ordinances, rather they are designed to guide the council, planning and zoning commission and board of adjustment as they make decisions in the future.

Council members Matt Levine and Rich Madison had each prepared a list of comments on the plan.

In chapter 4 on page 3, the plan recommends development in the 100 block of North Elm and the 200 block of West Adams streets. Levine questioned why North Maple Street was not a focus of development plans.

Levine also asked if the benefits to working towards declaring a historic district uptown would outweigh the burden on the building owners.

Jeremy Rounds from Southern Iowa Council of Governments said creating a historic district would add property value, attract businesses and set a design standard for the area. If owners chose not follow the guidelines for a historic district, there would be no penalty. The building could be removed from the historic designation and would no longer be eligible for any grants related to historic buildings.

“My biggest concern was the limitations and regulations that would be put on individual property owners,” Levine said. “If they don’t have to follow it ... that makes me feel a little bit better.”

Levine said he approved of the plan’s suggestion encouraging uptown residents to not park in front of the businesses. He suggested creating a free parking pass for them in the uptown lots.

He also spoke of the need to create new codes for rental properties to help keep those areas presentable.

Council member Terry Freeman asked if new codes were needed or if current ordinances simply needed enforcement. He asked if recreating the position of ordinance officer might be helpful.

Rounds said he would need to review the current ordinances and that the issue might be addressed in other chapters of the plan.

Madison said he was concerned with the future of uptown as the plan said the area needs 50 retail or related shops to remain sustainable. That is double what exists at the moment, he said.

He also cited chapter 5’s estimated loss of 300 units of housing in Creston over the next 20 years as an area of concern, especially as the projections show an increase in population.

“We need to figure out some way to make housing and make it affordable for people,” he said.

Madison said he has noticed that small businesses seem to do better in other nearby towns. He wondered how the plan could address attracting and keeping those businesses including more skilled labor such as plumbers and electricians.

Mayor Gabe Carroll said once the council has finished reviewing the plan, it can work on strategies to implement the ideas.

City administrator Mike Taylor said some of the ideas included in the plan are already being but into practice. He also spoke of the small sample size of the citizens who participated in developing the plan and the need to make sure more of the information is disseminated to the residents.

“Lots of things came out of those things (meetings with the community,” Taylor said. “ We didn’t wait for the plan to come out for things to start happening. ... There’s a lot of things going on with housing, with properties. ... We just probably have a need to share more information and it’s hard to get it all out.”

Chapters 8 through 11 will be discussed at the Nov. 17 city council meeting. The link for the meeting will be available on the city council website and in the Creston News Advertiser.

Those interested in reviewing the proposed comprehensive plan for the city may go to crestoniowa.gov/documentcenter.

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