City Plan meets approval Thursday

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, February 26, 2009

Troy’s Planning Commission has taken its final step in approving a long-range plan for the city, a plan that addresses land usage, transportation and growth of downtown.

The approval Thursday by the commission comes after more than a year of committee meetings, drafting and public hearings, and the Troy City Council could approve the final draft as early as next month.

“It’s been a long process, and there’s been a lot of challenges,” said Planning Commission Chairman Bill Hopper.

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And though Hopper said there are still some who may not agree with all aspects of the plan, overall he feels it encompasses several things that will benefit the city in the next 10 to 20 years.

“My thoughts on the plan are it is a good plan. It is a good framework to look forward to,” Hopper said. “You can’t please everybody, but for the most part this is a plan that’s going to be workable and ties to the growth of the university.”

Though nothing on the plan is guaranteed to happen, even after final approval, it will serve as a guideline for future zoning approved by the Planning Commission, Board of Adjustments and the Troy City Council. It will also make detailed recommendations for all other areas of future growth.

The plan approved Thursday had very few changes to the draft presented at a public hearing in October, recommending downtown development, university growth and a transition between the two.

Director of Community Planning for Goodwyn, Cawood and Mills Larry Watts, who worked with the city in devising the plan, said the recommendations are to revitalize, redevelop and expand the downtown area to create more housing and more development. In addition, they would call to transition between downtown and Troy University to create complimentary atmospheres for the two.

But what has been perhaps the most highly contested issue through the process is the future development of Highland Avenue and surrounding streets.

In the plan, recommendations are what Watts said might be “spot zoning,” calling for land use that transitions out from Troy University’s campus.

This would mean making the first block of Highland Avenue an area that could hold condos, duplexes or even some type of facility, like a church. Then from some parts of Sussex, Richmond and University Avenue, the plan recommends a “revitalization/transition” neighborhood.

“This would still be single-family housing, but maybe we would consider replotting some of the land where there are now two lots, maybe there would be three lots,” Hopper said.

Another of the plan’s big components addresses how to alleviate traffic on some of Troy’s highest traveled streets.

Watts said the plan focuses on expanding east-west traffic by improving some of the city’s streets, as well as finding some type of solution to heavy north-south traffic on streets like South Brundidge and George Wallace Drive.

The plan also calls for several connector roads surrounding all parts of the city.

While the plan, if approved, would be the city’s guide for development, Hopper said its components are not set in stone. If an I-10 connector toll road makes its way through Troy, he said that could mean several different land use changes since they don’t know its location at this time.

“As reality sets in, there’s going to be some tweaking,” Hopper said.