Tiny turnout doesn't halt talks
In fact, only one person of the 12 who attended the meeting wasn’t a member of the city council, city staff, plan commission or the press—and she was a former plan commission member.
The meeting at The Gathering Place was supposed to get community input on Milton’s future as it creates a new comprehensive plan. The state requires all municipalities to have a Smart Growth plan in place by Jan. 1, 2010.
Instead, members of city government offered their opinions of the city’s draft mission statement, land use map and other development issues. Some topics included:
-- Development at the future site of the Highway 26 bypass
-- Rewriting the city’s zoning code
-- Maintaining Milton’s identity as Janesville growth threatens to engulf it
“Janesville’s going to be the focus of maintaining Milton’s identity,” said Jon Platts, a member of the plan commission. “It’s murky now, and it’s going to get worse.”
Milton has experienced growth of its own, increasing its tax base 5.1 percent in the last year alone, City Administrator Todd Schmidt said.
Much of the discussion Wednesday focused on future growth issues, including a proposed boundary agreement with the town of Milton, a planned YMCA site and the type of commercial developments that are appropriate for the city.
Planner Mark Roffers with the consulting firm Vandewalle & Associates said he was disappointed more residents didn’t join the conversation.
“Bottom line, it’s their community,” Roffers said. “It’s certainly not my community. This is an important chance to influence decisions.”
Lynda Clark, a former plan commission member who now serves on the community development authority, said she participates in planning discussions to make sure Milton keeps the qualities that attracted her to it in the first place, such as its safety and its kid-friendliness.
“I think it’s important that you pay attention, not just to your own lot, but to the lots and the city around you,” she said.
It’s not too late to get involved, Roffers said. The city will hold its next comprehensive plan meeting in December and will continue to meet as the draft process continues.
The city hopes to put the plan to public hearing by May or June of 2008.