Disagreement over the 2013 Comprehensive Plan’s approach to the city’s eastern and western gateways continued Tuesday night but did not derail final approval of the plan in a 6-3 vote that marks the end of a two-year process to draft the document.
First Ward Alderman Ron Silkaitis, Ward 2 Alderman Art Lemke and Ward 4 Alderman James Martin all voted against adoption of the plan, while First Ward Alderman Dan Stellato abstained.
Lemke expressed concern that some details he had wanted in the document pertaining to Charlestowne Mall were not included, while Silkaitis said he had philosophical differences on the plan’s approach to the West Gateway area.
Martin reiterated his concern that he remains opposed to any mixed use in the West Gateway area, which potentially could include a residential component. Martin said he believes the entire area should be preserved solely for retail development.
But their arguments failed to persuade their colleagues on the City Council. Mayor Raymond Rogina, who does not vote except to break a tie, urged the council to adopt the plan, which he described as a “very thorough document” that was “worthy of support.”
The plan has been a source of varied, often conflicting concerns among residents during the two-year process of crafting the document.
One of the greater concerns in public discussion of the document revolved around the prospect of new residential development, particularly on the two gateways, centering on the Charlestowne Mall area on the East Side, and the old St. Charles Mall site on the West Side.
At one point, the City Council stripped all new residential development from the East and West gateways, only to reverse course soon afterward and restore the idea of mixed use, which allows, for example, for the development of a site with commercial space on the ground level and apartments on the upper levels.
The 2013 Comprehensive Plan is a policy document and guide for the city to look to during future development and redevelopment over the next two decades. Rogina on Tuesday night applauded it for its vision and for its flexibility. Some have worried the document is too flexible, particularly in terms of residential development.
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