Over the last several months, I have spoken with hundreds of my neighbors in Jersey Village about my campaign for Place 3 on Jersey Village City Council. One of the key points I have discussed is the need to draw businesses to our city and develop amenities here which will continue to attract younger families to our community. This is the most effective way to protect the investment we have made in our homes. Otherwise, families will continue to flock to competing master planned communities in our area, such as Fairfield, Bridgeland or Copperfield.
The natural follow up question to this point is, “Well, how does city government accomplish that goal?” Luckily, a key document has already been developed to guide the City of Jersey Village: the Comprehensive Plan. Many people, however, don’t realize quite what the Comprehensive Plan is, even if they have heard of it before.
What is a “Comprehensive Plan”?
Chapter 213 of the Texas Local Government Code defines a “comprehensive plan” as plan for “the long-range development of the municipality […] which may:
- include but is not limited to provisions on land use, transportation, and public facilities;
- consist of a single plan or a coordinated set of plans organized by subject and geographic area; and
- be used to coordinate and guide the establishment of development regulations.”
A pretty dry description, right? Instead, I like to think of the Comprehensive Plan as the city’s answer to the age old question of “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
This document represents the answer to that question as developed by a group of everyday citizens with the help of city staff and a consulting firm. The Comprehensive Plan gives a description of our community, an overview of the vision, goals and strategies of the city, as well as in-depth proposals and a plan for implementation of those proposals. They address issues such as:
- future land use
- economic development
- parks, recreation and open space
- community character, and
- community facilities
How Do We Implement the Comprehensive Plan?
The first step is for Jersey Village City Council to begin to establish priorities and set timeframes for the implementation of the various strategies in the Comprehensive Plan. Without that first step, the Comprehensive Plan will continue to be nothing more than an unfulfilled wish list. The plan calls for implementation of “short term” items, is identified in charts such as the one illustrated here, sometime from implementation of the Comprehensive Plan up to five years from implementation date. “Mid-term” items should be implemented in the next five to ten years. So far we’re one year into the Comprehensive Plan. While we still have time to meet the expectations set by the plan, it’s time for city council to move on some of these short-term items.
How Do We Pay for These Projects?
Fiscal responsibility must be at the forefront of any decision to implement a strategy from the Comprehensive Plan. The City of Jersey Village must only move forward with a project if the funding is available ahead of time. We can easily pay for most of these projects as we go without raising taxes. Moreover, if there is a possibility that a particular large project may be beneficial to the community, but would require the issuance of new debt in order to do so, this debt must be approved by the citizens through a vote.
Where possible, the city should also investigate alternative sources of funding such as federal and state grants to fund projects contained in the Comprehensive Plan.
Is This a Static Plan?
The Comprehensive Plan should not be and is not, by design, a static document. The continued development of our community is going to require some flexibility as conditions and priorities change. The plan itself calls for annual reviews of the progress of implementing the plan and a full update every four years.
How Can We Help with Implementation?
This is not merely a document for city government – it belongs to all of us. Do you see a particular item which you would like to see implemented sooner rather than later? Contact the city council to let them know which items are a priority for you.
Also, no later than July 2020, the city council will appoint members to a Comprehensive Planning Update Committee. This committee, much like the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee which created the plan, will consist of citizens who have stepped forward to join the committee and contribute their thoughts, ideas and expertise to help improve our city. When the time comes to make these appointments, I would encourage you to consider applying.
When I join city council, I will make implementation of projects from the Comprehensive Plan a high priority of our city government. It is essential to the continued advancement of our community and the growth of the investment we have all made in our city.