Fairfield residents can weigh in on plan to guide future development

By this time next year, Fairfield will have a planning document to guide the city far into the future.

Cincinnati-based Jacobs Engineering Group was contracted in May by Fairfield City Council to develop an updated comprehensive plan the city is calling “Fairfield Forward.”

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“One of the things we’ll be looking at the comprehensive plan is just trying to improve connectivity throughout the city,” said Fairfield City Manager Mark Wendling.

The comprehensive plan is designed to guide the future development, redevelopment and reinvestment of the community. The city is paying Jacobs $115,640, of which $5,000 is funded through a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation. It will take between 10 to 11 months to complete the plan that will include steering committee meetings, four strategic advisory committee meetings, two public open houses and one public workshop. The planning process kicked off last week with city staff.

Topics that will be addressed in this comprehensive plan include land use, infrastructure, housing, economic development and quality of life, said Paul Culter, Jacobs Engineering project manager.

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What this comprehensive is not, Culter said, is a strategic plan — which is more of an organizational plan — nor is it a regulatory zone document.

“It should be a playbook for the city, staff, boards, commissions, elected officials in the decision-making process,” said Culter.

The comprehensive plan should be consulted as the city makes decisions, he said.

The city first adopted a comprehensive plan in 1966, and it has been updated several times since then, but it hasn’t been updated since 2009. Culter called that process “an in-house exercise.”

This process will include traditional avenues for the public to provide input, including public, steering committee and stakeholder meetings. But it also involves an online component where there will be a project-specific website (which will be linked to the city’s website), online surveys and social media interaction.

There will also be interaction at local events, said Wendy Moeller, principal of Compass Point Planning, a company Jacobs contracted with for this project.

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“We do that by looking at a couple of different opportunities for it, and because of that we use a wider variety of people involved,” she said. “And we use all that different input to make sure we balance and make sure we’re seeing all the concerns, all the interest and the opportunities.”

The community involvement is something that has Development Services Director Greg Kathman excited about the process.

“We have a lot of good volunteers on the various boards and commissions, but we’re always looking on bringing new people, and younger people,” Kathman said. ” If we can bring some new people into this process, and maybe get them engaged, and maybe develop future leaders of this community through this process.”

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