City making progress on 20-year vision

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  • Community members had an opportunity to identify their values and priorities for the city during a visioning event for Sandpoint’s comprehensive plan update on Thursday, held at Forrest Bird Charter High School. (Photo by MARY MALONE)

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    (Photo by MARY MALONE) Miriam McGilvray, left, a community planner with Logan Simpson Design, writes down an idea presented by a community member during Thursday’s visioning event for Sandpoint’s comprehensive plan update.

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    (Photo by MARY MALONE) Community members had an opportunity to identify their values and priorities for the city during a visioning event for Sandpoint’s comprehensive plan update on Thursday, held at Forrest Bird Charter High School.

  • Community members had an opportunity to identify their values and priorities for the city during a visioning event for Sandpoint’s comprehensive plan update on Thursday, held at Forrest Bird Charter High School. (Photo by MARY MALONE)

  • 1

    (Photo by MARY MALONE) Miriam McGilvray, left, a community planner with Logan Simpson Design, writes down an idea presented by a community member during Thursday’s visioning event for Sandpoint’s comprehensive plan update.

  • 2

    (Photo by MARY MALONE) Community members had an opportunity to identify their values and priorities for the city during a visioning event for Sandpoint’s comprehensive plan update on Thursday, held at Forrest Bird Charter High School.

SANDPOINT — The city’s comprehensive plan update is well underway as the community is helping to create the 20-year vision for Sandpoint.

“This is a community-driven plan, so your input and participation is valuable in this process,” Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad told those who attended a visioning event Thursday night, hosted by city officials and consultants from Logan Simpson Design at Forrest Bird Charter School.

The city approved the contract with Logan Simpson Design in September to update to the comprehensive plan, which has not been overhauled since 2009. The comprehensive plan informs “major” decisions by the city’s planning commission, council and staff of how the city will grow, where it should grow and how to protect what is important, said Aaron Qualls, city planning and community development director. The plan is also required by state law, Qualls said, being the legal basis for those “major” decisions.

“It helps ensure that development decisions are not made on the fly, but are based upon the vision by the community,” Qualls said. “That is the intent of this overall plan, which really has to be by and for the community.”

The overall update will be done in three phases over the next year, said Miriam McGilvray, a community planner with Logan Simpson Design. The first phase will look at the people of Sandpoint, who they are, and what is “great” about the city, as well as some data analysis, she said. In the second phase, the consultants will look more specifically at visioning — what the community sees for the future of the city in the next 20 years and how to get there. In the third phase, the consultants will take what they have heard from the community and translate it into the update to the comprehensive plan, meaning goals, policies and action items, McGilvray said.

McGilvray said they are currently straddling the first and second phases, though the primary focus right now is the airport component. After a number of zone change requests for land surrounding the airport were approved by the council recently, the city implemented a temporary moratorium in July on new requests for up to one year to allow adequate time for the comprehensive planning process. Therefore, the airport component of the plan is being expedited by the consultants.

Between the consultants first community meeting, planning commission meetings, one-on-one interviews and an online survey held over the past month, they have identified some top issues to address in the plan, which include planning for growth, housing options, community character and design, jobs and businesses, and educational opportunities. They also discovered what people love about Sandpoint, such as community, recreational opportunities, the small-town feel and more.

Those in attendance Thursday evening were asked to give their input by going around to a number of different displays set up around the room covering different areas of the plan — jobs and economic development, public facilities and services, land use and growth, streets and transportation, housing and neighborhoods, parks and recreation, community character and design, and the airport area. Each category had a minimum of two boards, one asking people to indicate what values from the 2009 plan they would like to keep, and the other asking for people to give their own “big ideas” while listing some of the ones the consultants have heard so far.

With the airport component as top priority, city officials and the consultants held an all-day workshop at the airport prior to the evening event to garner input and provide information specific to the airport.

The results of these exercises will be revealed during upcoming meetings. While Thursday was the last community meeting before the airport component is slated to be adopted in December, the schedule includes two upcoming Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, as well as a second survey that is expected to be released sometime in the next week. More community meetings, surveys and other events for the overall plan will be scheduled as the process moves forward in 2020.

For information and to access the surveys, go to sandpointidaho.gov/imagine or download the Engage Sandpoint app for mobile devices.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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