Dover near the finish line of ’19 Comprehensive Plan

DOVER – The city of Dover is in the final stages of trying to get its 2019 Comprehensive Plan approved.

The Comprehensive Plan is an assessment of Dover’s strengths, as well as areas that can be improved upon, and how it can allocate resources to ensure that the city continues to grow and thrive.

The final draft of the Comprehensive Plan is scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Commission on Monday at 6 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall at 15 Loockerman Plaza.

The city will have another public hearing and action on the final draft plan, which is scheduled to take place at the Dover City Council meeting on Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m., also in the council chambers of City Hall.

If the Comprehensive Plan gets approved it would then go to Gov. John Carney, who will also have to approve it.

Kay Sass, public affairs and emergency management coordinator for Dover, said the 2019 Comprehensive Plan “was written with input from the public and will help plan for a bigger, better Dover.”

She also noted that the city released the draft 2019 Comprehensive Plan and its Map Series and shared them at several public events earlier this fall.

“We got some excellent feedback from the public,” said Dave Hugg, Dover’s director of planning. “We also received comments from various city and state agencies who offered their expertise and comments. All have gone to creating the Comprehensive Plan that we are very excited to share with you now as our 2019 Comprehensive Plan Final Draft.”

Mr. Hugg said it has been an exhaustive process but one that his department is finally closing in on completing.

“For about a year-and-a-half the planning staff has been engaged in-house with our own resources in updating the 2008-2009 Comprehensive Plan for the city of Dover,” Mr. Hugg said. “It’s been an extensive project.

“We started out with the notion that the original plan and current plan that’s now in effect – as amended throughout the years – was a very good plan and that our mission really was to demonstrate how that plan had worked and what had been accomplished and then to bring it into this decade 10 years later.”

Members of Dover’s planning staff were granted an extension in working on the comprehensive plan earlier this year, taking into consideration the group is crafting the plan in-house.

“The due date for submitting a comprehensive plan and having a plan approved was February 2019,” said Mr. Hugg. “We asked the state to give us some additional time because of the complexity of the plan and the fact that we were doing it in-house. We requested an extension and in September we were granted one.

“The plan was written by about five different people so now we’re trying to make it look like it wasn’t written by committee but, in fact, was written by one person, if you will.”

The development of a comprehensive plan is designed to be effective in guiding the growth and improving quality of life within a city and must identify specific actions and timeframes for implementation. The city’s success in meeting the upcoming challenges will in large part be determined by the actions it takes in the coming years.

The Dover Comprehensive Plan is the culmination of more than a year’s work, led by the Planning Office, in conjunction with other city departments, City Council, the Planning Commission, the Historic District Commission and the citizens of Dover.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen noted the importance of having a plan during his “State of the City” speech to city council last May.

“While we must certainly handle the day-to-day mundane tasks of the present, we must maintain and improve our infrastructure in anticipation of the next 300 years of success and prosperity,” Mayor Christiansen said. “We are actively exploring opportunities that will support the infrastructure downtown, allow adequate parking for existing businesses and leave room for growth.

“We need to continue to maintain and improve the water system, our roadways and our electrical system – these are the arteries that keep our city moving forward. We must assess and candidly address these issues and the resources needed to do so.”

The city of Dover invites and encourages the public to continue to follow the progress of the 2019 Comprehensive Plan where they can also find the final draft document and map series at www.cityofdover.com/2019-comprehensive-plan.

Questions can be directed to the City of Dover Planning Office at 302-736-7196 or via email at compplan@dover.de.us.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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