City’s comprehensive plan going high-tech next year

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 6, 2004

Kelly McCaffrey, the city’s community planner, sits at a drafting table Thursday at the City of Vicksburg Planning Department on South Street. (Meredith Spencer The Vicksburg Post)

[12/5/04] Taking advantage of newer technologies, the City of Vicksburg’s new comprehensive plan for the next 25 years will be made available on the Internet and on compact disc when completed next year.

Kelly McCaffrey, the city’s community planner, has spent the last six months gathering demographic data and historical records on the city to put together the new plan. He said it should be ready for public hearings by May or June and finished next summer.

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A comprehensive plan outlines municipal government’s plan for growth and development in a community and is required under state law. Vicksburg’s last update of the plan took two years to write and was finished in 1996.

“We’re really taking the ’96 plan and expanding on it,” McCaffrey said. “It was a good plan, but it didn’t take in enough.”

By the time he finishes, McCaffrey said he expects to have three volumes of information, including an inventory of every property inside the municipal limits and an outline for city growth through 2030.

City Planner Wayne Mansfield said it’s the first step in overhauling the city’s zoning ordinances, a project in the works for nearly eight years now. A citizen advisory committee worked with the city’s planning department for more than a year in 1998 developing a proposed new zoning ordinance that was never adopted.

Portions of that proposed plan have been incorporated into city regulations including new rules for signs, but other parts, like special corridor zones along major thoroughfares, have remained on the shelf.

In 2002, the city adopted plans for a new set of regulatory codes called Smart Growth. After a $250,000 process to gather public input, the city scrapped the idea for more traditional zoning regulations.

Mansfield, who came to that office last year, made rewriting the comprehensive plan a priority and said that they will incorporate the 1998 proposal and data from Smart Growth into a new plan.

“We do want extensive public input into this,” Mansfield said. “It’s not my plan. It’s not Kelly’s plan. It’s everybody’s plan.”

McCaffrey said he plans to have at least three public hearings on the plan and hopes the public will participate or send in comments both good and bad.

“It won’t hurt my feelings because I want this to be good,” McCaffrey said.

The comprehensive plan will ultimately have to be approved by the city board, which, by the time it is completed, could look different following the municipal elections in June. New officers, if any, will take office on July 1.

Adopting new zoning regulations is also a lengthy process that requires a separate public hearing and approval from the mayor and aldermen.