Dover to host ‘open house’ for input on city’s new comprehensive plan

DOVER — Dave Hugg is the man tasked with having the plan when it comes to shaping the city of Dover’s immediate future.

However, Dover City Planner Hugg and his staff are also seeking as much community input as they can when it comes to creating the city’s 2019 Comprehensive Plan — a vision and roadmap for the future that will help guide key decisions over the next decade.

The city will host an open house event for the new comprehensive plan at the Dover Public Library at 35 Loockerman Plaza on Thursday from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Mr. Hugg and city staff will be making presentations inside meeting rooms A & B regarding the comprehensive plan at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The open house comes on the heels of a city-wide survey that has been distributed to different city offices and placed on the city of Dover’s website from June 11 to July 31 this summer.

The survey covered topics such as: economic development; downtown Dover; housing; traffic and transit; utilities and services; parks and recreation; natural environment, development and urban design and land use, growth and annexation and Dover Air Force Base.

“At the open house we will have the results of our survey and draft of the future land-use map and we have identified some issues and questions and changes to our land-use map, or future development map,” Mr. Hugg said.

“We’re trying to get any additional public input they would like to give if they didn’t feel like the survey gave them the venue to give their attention to a certain issue or area.”

Mr. Hugg said the open house will be informal and a chance for himself and his staff to see what issues are the most important for the residents of Dover.

“We have lots of good feedback and we’ll be ready to share it on Thursday,” he said. “We had more than 500 responses to our survey, which is amazing.

“The surveys that we received appear to be fairly representative of the city’s overall population, and we received a lot of good responses to the individual questions.”

The city’s Planning Department says the comprehensive plan will address many of the questions that arise when new people arrive in the city, such as: Where will they live? Where will they work? How will essential services be provided to them? And how can the city help its residents achieve a high quality of life?

The city of Dover’s goals for its’ new 2019 Comprehensive Plan are to report on the implementation status of the 2008 plan; add in recommendations from other plans and studies conducted over the past decade; assess the significance of demographic and economic changes; identify the city’s accomplishments and reflect on new trends that may factor into the city’s plan for growth.

Mr. Hugg said the comprehensive plan is more than just a list of goals, it also serves as an important informational, police and regulatory document.

Dover City Council and The Planning Commission use the plan as the foundation for rezoning, annexations and other land-use decisions.

The city’s Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map are required under state law to be in conformance with the comprehensive plan, meaning all changes to the city’s zoning laws and all zoning changes affecting how land can be used, must directly or indirectly support the goals of the plan.

Mr. Hugg said, “The city’s Planning Commission already had a homework assignment to look at the old plan and figure out what was done well, what was not done, and what the city might want to do in the future.”

He also stressed that Dover’s 2008 Comprehensive Plan was a good, well-written plan, and staff was taking the strengths of that plan and incorporating them into the new one, as opposed to starting all over, because “that would be a waste of time.”

Mr. Hugg said members of the Planning Commission were doing a scorecard on which parts of the 2008 plan were implemented, which were not, and why.

Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen noted the importance of having a plan during his “State of the City” speech to city council in 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 is trying to find out what the most important issues are when it comes to the future for the citizens of Dover.

Their voices will be heard at the Dover Public Library on Thursday.

 

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

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