The Fayette County Area Planning Commission heard the first presentation of the Comprehensive Plan for the City of Connersville at this month’s APC meeting.

The presentation regarding the plan was lead by Cecil Penland, a landscape architect for Rundell Ernstberger Associates. Project Planner Catherine Kazmierczak was also present at the meeting to answer questions.

The previous comprehensive plan for the city is many years outdated. The last plan was completed in 2011. Kazmierczak said standard procedure is to update these plans every five years. A new one has been in the works for the past year. The plan was recently reviewed by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).

The comprehensive plan for Connersville is a guide, but not necessarily a strict rule set that has to be followed.

The nearly 300-page comprehensive plan for the city contains 139 total goals and projects ranging from short-term (zero to two) years to long-term (more than five years) projects and range from low to high dollar projects as well.

Penland said another consideration in the plan is the possibility of creating a Tax increment Financing (TIF) District. A TIF District is a complicated process, but in short it would allow the city to collect funding off of the assessed valuation of the area outlined in the TIF District that can be used to revitalize that area.

Penland said the main criticism of a TIF District is that the additional value gained from the TIF area is set aside for reinvestment instead of going to schools, police, fire or some other department.

The comprehensive plan lays out a pathway to add more city employees as well. Penland specifically mentioned a city engineer, building inspector, and code enforcement. It was suggested that these positions could be shared between both the city and the county as these positions are needed at both levels.

The plan also lays out a need for a marketing and planning director. Penland said it was made clear during meetings with local officials within the community that there is a need for someone to help build community pride and to help coordinate the planning of events and activities in the city.

Development of a five year parks and recreation plan is a part of the comprehensive plan.

A city transportation plan would act as guide for revitalizing roadways, implementing trails and improving public transportation.

Much of the presentation of the comprehensive plan focused on the continued economic development of the city and the further development of community events. This is to make a sense of community pride and togetherness.

Area Plan Director Bill MacDaniel asked how long it would be before the finalized plan could be officially adopted and released in its entirety to the public to see. Penland said the expectation is that the plan will be presented to the City Council on Dec. 5, and said within a few weeks of the city council approval it would be ready to publish.

“This has been like a five year process,” Area Plan Commission President Brian Durham said. “We took all the stuff that we had from Purdue, stuff that other people had done and gave that to them (Rundell Ernstberger Associates) to use as a base and they took it to the finish line from there. It’s been a long, tedious process.”

MacDaniel pointed out that this plan is a key piece to getting grants, as many require the city have a comprehensive plan in place to be considered for a grant. The APC voted to pass the plan with a favorable recommendation.
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