By Gary Nelson for The Arizona Republic
Original headline: Mesa launches new approach to long-range planning
Mesa planners noticed something as they launched the city’s mandated 2014 general plan update: a sense of disconnectedness. So the aim of Mesa’s current General Plan update, mandated by state law, is “sprawl repair.”
The phrase echoed like a thunderclap last week as Planning Director John Wesley briefed the City Council on progress toward putting the new General Plan on the November 2014 ballot.
The first draft is due by October, and it will differ greatly from the general plans of Mesa’s past.
There will still be color-coded maps. But they’ll be used to describe broadly defined “character areas” rather than to dictate specific land uses on every parcel in town.
Within those character areas, any number of things will be allowed to happen as long as they don’t upset the general nature of the neighborhood.
The aim, Wesley said, is to guide Mesa’s development into a 21st-century American city — whatever, in the final analysis, that turns out to be — rather than leave it in place as a 20th-century American “boomburb.”
That’s a word coined by the Fannie Mae Foundation in 2001 to describe fast-growing suburbs that were becoming major population centers within the context of a large central city.
Based on feedback already received in community meetings and surveys, Wesley said Mesa residents value their neighborhoods above all other development priorities — but they now want those neighborhoods to have a sense of place, to be walkable, and to easily connect with other neighborhoods and uses such as retail.
High value also was placed on quality education, cultural amenities, parks and open spaces, economic development and transit.
Mesa still expects a buildout population of 633,700, Wesley said, although there is no timeline for when it might be reached.
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