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Comprehensive plan being readied for unveiling

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
August 11, 2008
— After 12 years of planning, the document that will guide Janesville’s growth over next 20 years is in its final stages.

Residents can comment on the draft plan at the city plan commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and view the map at an open house to be scheduled probably in late September.


Part of the map appears in today’s paper. To view the entire map, go to www.gazettextra.com/growthmap. [PDF] (2.78 MB)

Brad Cantrell, director of community development, answered questions about the comprehensive plan and the direction it takes the community—literally and figuratively.


Q: Why is Janesville creating a comprehensive plan?
A: Smart Growth legislation requires all communities to update its comprehensive plan by Jan. 1, 2010. The plan provides a foundation and vision for the next 20 to 30 years. Its purpose is to assure cost-effective city services, such as water and sewer, and to plan for infrastructure, roads, appropriate and orderly development and environmental concerns.

The city’s last plan was created in the 1980s. The city has grown to the boundaries of that plan, which projected that today’s population would be about 63,000, or 1,000 short of the current population.


Q: What growth does this plan project?
A: By 2030, the city is projected to grow by 20,000 new residents, 8,000 new dwelling units and about 15 new square miles added to the current 34. GM’s closing initially will slow the city’s growth, but the city is well positioned between Madison and Rockford, Ill. It is already a regional center in Rock County, and it will continue to gain a large share of commercial and industrial development.
Q: Where will we put the people?
A: The city is hoping for more balanced growth than in the past. About 70 percent of new growth has been on the city’s northeast side near the transportation network there. Staff hopes that figure changes so about 40 percent of the development is on the south and west sides.
Q: Will the plan protect the area’s prime farmland?
A: The city will try to direct growth away from the best farmland. It wants to limit development south of County A on the southeast side of the city in La Prairie Township, which is agriculture-based and where residents want to preserve farming.

Some development around County A and Highway 14 already exists, and some infill development will occur, but the city hopes that will be limited.


During the planning process, staff met with members of the surrounding towns. Town boards are especially concerned about Janesville’s creep east of Interstate 90/39.


The Highway 11 bypass provides a logical boundary for growth on the city’s west side.


Farmland is preserved by city growth because it is typically denser than township growth. The average city density is 2.5 homes per acre. One home on five acres is not uncommon in the country.


Q: Can the city require others to follow its plan?
A: The city can’t do anything if a farmer wants to sell, for instance. But the city has some say about the timing of development and servicing that development if the land is within 3 miles of the city’s boundaries.

The city can deny premature development in areas viewed as future growth areas. Otherwise, rural developments could become rural islands in the city. A rural property owner can create limited numbers of lots.


The council must formally amend the plan to OK uses not indicated on the map.


Q: What does the plan say about road development?
A: The Highway 11 bypass on the west side eventually will be extended north. That provides a shortcut not only to Madison but also to the northeast side of the city. The plan shows a possible site for the road. Building closer to the city is better for the city and the town. That extension is about 20 years in the future.

In the next decade, Interstate 90/39 will be expanded to six lanes. Highway 26 improvements will happen in the next five years. The extension of Highway 11 to Interstate 43 is also being studied.


Q: When will the plan be adopted?
A: Tentatively, the first part of December.
PLAN PROPOSALS

The Janesville city comprehensive plan proposes:


-- The area north of Highways 14 and 51 will be the city’s next commercial center.


-- Some commercial growth might occur on the west side around the Highway 11 bypass; on the south side around Center Avenue and Highway 11; and along Interstate 90 and Highway 11, where the new hospital will be built. The city will try to limit commercial growth at the Avalon Road and Highway 11 interchange.


-- Industrial development will be primarily in the southeast around the intersection of Beloit Avenue and Highway 11.


-- Infill will be encouraged, especially along the old commercial corridors such as Center and Milton avenues and Court Street.


-- Planned neighborhoods are a new development concept. They include neighborhood commercial mixed with mostly single-family homes but also some duplexes and multi-family homes.


-- As the cost of land increases lot density might rise to about four lots per acre. The city average today is about 2.5 lots per acre.


-- The city will work with Rock County to restrict residential development around the airport. That land is planned for industrial development more compatible with the airport.


- Planned mixed use is a new zoning category. That includes first-floor commercial use and second-floor residential use.


IF YOU GO
What: Janesville Plan Commission meeting. Members might finalize the 20-year comprehensive plan. A public open house will be scheduled in fall, and adoption by the city council is anticipated in December. Residents will have a chance to comment on the plan.
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Janesville City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.

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