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Planning Commission to move forward with Land Use Plan

SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Planning Commission approved city staff to move forward with creating an official Land Use Plan for the city of Sheridan at its meeting Monday.

City Planning and Development Director Robert Briggs gave a presentation to the planning commission about how the process would work. He said a land use plan draws city goals together into one document and becomes a valuable tool for future decisions about land use and city development.

The plan will be a team effort between the planning commission, city council, a steering committee with interested stakeholders, mapping firms and local planning consultant Joanne Garnett of Orion Planning Group. Briggs estimated it will take approximately 14 months to complete the plan and get it certified by the planning commission and adopted by city council.

“A good master plan, a good land use plan, is critical to making sure that from a policy perspective, and from a land use regulation perspective, that we’re really doing things the community wants to see, that we’re being reasonable, we’re being responsible, and we’re helping both people to develop their property but also to shape that growth and development,” Briggs said.

The city has participated in Sheridan County’s growth management plan for years, Briggs said, and has adopted the county’s comprehensive plan, but staff decided it was time to have a plan tailored specifically to development within city limits.

“If the plan is certified by the planning commission and adopted by city council, it becomes a foundation for what we do. It really becomes a baseline,” Briggs said. “This will give action steps and recommendations of things we might want to look into changing in the future so that we can help shape development in a way that lines up better with what we heard from the community and stakeholders.”

Work on the land use plan will be completed in three phases.

Phase one will examine existing city conditions and development through citizen surveys, existing plan reviews, city staff and council questionnaires, and assessments of current land use.

Phase two will identify relevant goals from existing plans and will compare current zoning with what is actually on the ground, Briggs said. An existing land use map will be created to see if current zoning is in sync with what buildings currently exist. A vision statement for land use will also be drafted in this phase.

Phase three will consist of drafting the actual land use plan to include a future land use map, best management practices, and a policy outline of how to bring current regulations into line with visions and goals.

The final product will be concise and user friendly, a policy manual that can be used by the planning commission and city council when making decisions about development.

Beginning in the new year, a website will be created to update the community on the plan’s progress. Community involvement will also be key to the plan and several opportunities for public input will be offered, Briggs said.

The land use plan will be funded through the professional services budget for the city’s public works department, Briggs said. Funds were rolled over from last year and are already in the current budget.

The planning commission had no other old or new business to consider. It will meet again in January.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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