Master planning begins

City Council, Planning Commission meet to start planning process

BROOKINGS – Representatives from RDG Planning & Design met with the Brookings City Council and the Planning Commission Tuesday to go over the process and schedule for the Comprehensive Master Plan.

Amy Haase, project manager, introduced the RDG team and explained the planning process.

Why should cities make a plan? Haase asked.

“Land use decisions should be governed by what is good for the community as a whole rather than what is best for the individual landowner,” she said. A comprehensive plan can be the basis for making those decisions.

A comprehensive plan can:

• Ensure that future growth produces maximum economic benefit;

• Provide safe, convenient and effective access to all parts of a growing city;

• Maintain the character and connectedness of the city as it grows; and

• Forge a shared community vision of the future of the city.

A comprehensive plan is not meant to be an unchangeable, inflexible commitment to carry out specific projects, a rigid plan that anticipates the specific use of every piece of property into the future, or a capital or operating budget, Haase said.

The process must have transparency and communication, Haase said.

“It’s your document, not ours,” she said. “People in the community have ownership in the document.”

The framework for a plan includes:

• Identify the framework;

• Establish the plan;

• Detail the plan;

• Bring it to reality.

Those steps can include profile, economic development, housing and neighborhoods, mobility, environmental assets and constraints; parks, trails, open space; utilities, schools, municipal facilities and services, land use plan, community character and design and campus community relations.

Haase asked the joint entities to come up with one word or phrase that describes Brookings today and one word or phrase that describes Brookings in the future.

Progressive, vibrant, entrepreneurial, growing and growing with potential were some mentioned.

Destination, bring your dreams, star quality, city of continual new beginnings, expansion, thriving and bustling were others.

“How do you define success at the end of this process?” Haase asked.

“A plan we could work with,” said Councilor Keith Corbett.

“A plan we actually use,” said County Commissioner Lee Ann Pierce.

“Clearer vision,” said Al Heuton, executive director of Brookings Economic Development Corp.

“Roadmap,” said Ryan Murphy from the Planning Commission.

“Double roadmap,” said Alan Gregg from the Planning Commission.

“Inclusive,” said Kristi Tornquist from the Planning Commission.

“Everyone happy with the plan,” said Councilor Mary Kidwiler.

“A plan that balances the needs of all,” said Councilor Nick Wendell.

“Most sustainable community,” said Councilor Patty Bacon.

“Foster a cooperative action,” said City Attorney Steve Britzman.

“If we’ve done our job, it’s hopefully reflective of what the residents want,” Haase summed up.

Bacon pointed out Brookings has a number of task forces – affordable housing, bicycle and the master plan, to name just a few – and she asked that all those be included in the master planning process.

“They’re pieces in the big puzzle,” she said.

Heuton said South Dakota State University should be taken into consideration, especially in how to retain the students after they graduate.

“I’m glad to see you have one guy solely looking at where our water’s going,” said Councilor Ope Niemeyer.

Haase said things like the Bicycle Master Plan is exciting because they want “to improve access for all.” She pointed out Brookings, like many communities in the Midwest has an aging population and she questioned how the older folks will continue to get around.

Haase said small group conversations are set for April 18-19, and she said her group will be in Brookings several times over the next few months and they want to get feedback from a cross section of residents.

They will launch a survey, which will be available online and in hardcopy at the Brookings Public Library, city hall and the senior center.

RDG will also have a workforce housing survey, targeted to a bit broader market to capture individuals who work here but don’t live here. Companies can have copies available in their breakrooms.

Haase wants to have bigger public workshops in the summer months, and also to have some before the university and high school students scatter for the summer “to see what they have to say.”

RDG does use census information, but they also use other resources, especially since the last census was in 2010 and the numbers have changed a bit, Haase said. She likes looking at building permit activity and using historic trends to project the population.

The SDSU students are taken into consideration, she said, but it’s harder to determine how many of the students will stay in the area.


Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected].