I was excited to announce that the city would be moving forward with a major rewrite of the comprehensive plan beginning this fall. This should be an interesting and fun process, including opportunities for significant public input in the form of everything from internet surveys to in-person focus groups. Unfortunately, it won't happen for a few more years.
At the last Planning Commission meeting, Chairman Foster announced that they will instead produce a minor update to the existing plan by sometime early next year and then begin the process of a major rewrite, which should wrap up in 2014.
Is it weird to create a plan in 2012 followed by another one two years later? Yes. But here is some justification.
1. Much of the plan for 2012 has already been completed. Initially, the plan was to scrap the work that was put into the plan then rush through a major rewrite since it has been seven years since the last comprehensive plan update and we are supposed to do it every five. Instead, the next several months will be spent tying loose ends for the 2012 plan (which was primarily produced in 2009), then taking a deep breath and getting ready for the more in-depth re-write.
2. One of the major goals of the 2012 is to get the summary of the Fairfax Boulevard Masterplan integrated into the city-wide Comprehensive Plan. The way Chairman Foster described it, many of the members of the current City Council, including the Mayor, were instrumental in developing the plan so it should be (at least partially) implemented under their watch (the council elections will be in May 2012). It has been four years now since the Fairfax Boulevard charettes took place and the city has done nothing with it.
3. Buying a little extra time will be extremely helpful in developing the 2014 major re-write. This will allow proper community outreach without looming deadlines overhead. The 2014 document will be critical for the future of the city and a compressed schedule could sacrifice quality. A similar process for the 1997 comp plan update took four years to complete - but it has helped establish priorities and guide growth for almost fifteen years.
This schedule seemed to be developed based on a few quick conversations, as the rest of the planning commission wasn't involved, so I wouldn't be surprised if it changes again. In fact, "buying time" might set up an excuse to push the major re-write back even further. But, at least we will get SOMETHING accomplished by next year.