A View Of Tomorrow: Glasgow Plans For The Future
By Samar Fay
Published: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
There are plenty of good things about Glasgow now and things people would like to see – or avoid – in the future. A public meeting on Jan. 23 drew about 25 people to the Glasgow High School auditorium to share in the formation of community goals for a new growth policy.
People said they like Glasgow because it is safe for their kids. They like the idea that they know everybody. One person has been impressed with Glasgow’s volunteer spirit and wants to keep up the pace, getting new people involved in the community. It is a good community to do business in.
“There is definitely an entrepreneurial spirit here,” said Matt Ulberg, one of the members of the team hired by the city to guide the growth policy process.
One person wants strict building codes. Another wants to develop the empty lots and dilapidated housing on the south side, where there are already lights and streets. Hiking trails and biking paths are important to another person, as well as keeping up with social services like mental health and low income assistance as the population changes. Agriculture is Glasgow’s support and one person wants to see it protected to a degree because the easiest places to build are on ag land.
A railroad quiet zone, a new swimming pool, affordable housing and a ground-level post office were other desires.
Future growth is likely to be linked to oil exploration and production, said team member Janet Cornish. In connection with this, man camps are a concern to one citizen. Another said developers should be required to pay some costs like curbs and gutters, but not so much that they refuse to build here.
Thought was also given to what will happen when the oil boom eventually subsides, people leave and the infrastructure is left behind.
Consideration was given to influences that are out of local control, such as the growth of the middle class in Asia, with a rise in demand for grain for meat consumption, the impact of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the generational transfer of wealth down from the baby boomers and the effect of budget austerity on the many state and federal employees in Valley County.
Mayor Dan Carney said the city is landlocked with a flood plain to the south and west. That only leaves room for expansion north to the airport and east.
“We have to provide a comfort zone to the people east of Glasgow – what we’re going to do and how,” Carney said. “They have water already. What about sewer? We don’t want our neighbors to the east to feel we’re going to ramrod them.”
Asked if a growth policy will help Glasgow with the situation of a decertified levee, Ulberg responded, “Yes and no.”
“It will document that there is a situation that has to be dealt with,” he said. “We can’t ignore it in the growth policy. It affects the whole south side of town. But the growth policy can’t have a specific fix.
A growth policy is not a regulatory document with specifics on zoning, subdivision and capital improvements. It is the fundamental planning document for the city, providing a context for growth and development according the the vision developed by the community. It helps establish priorities for projects, since there never is enough money to do everything. Having a growth policy in place makes it easier for the city to obtain grant funding, Cornish said.
Growth policies are to be reviewed every five years, or more often, if necessary.
The planning area for this growth policy is not determined by law. It could stop at the present city limit, extend a mile out, or go 5 miles out, according to the vision developed by the community.
The policy for a surrounding area does not mean that people outside of town could be forcibly annexed.
Public input is vital to the development of a growth policy but the policy is not subject to a public referendum. Under the direction of the City Council’s Planning Board, the policy will be drafted by the team based on public meetings, interviews and research. The draft will be refined at more public meetings in the summer, then be presented by the Planning Board to the City Council for adoption this fall.
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