Woodway taking longer to develop updated comprehensive plan

Woodway taking longer to develop updated comprehensive plan

Politics


Woodway leaders and city staff will hold additional workshops in the next several weeks to complete the city’s next comprehensive plan to guide development and redevelopment.

The Woodway City Council approved on April 8 additional joint workshops between the council, Planning and Zoning Commission and urban planning consultants from Dallas to complete work on the Woodway Forward Comprehensive Plan, so that that the plan can be adopted by the council. The initial cost of the workshops would be $16,500, including the consultants traveling to Woodway.

Interim City Manager Adam Niolet will see if a lower price can be arranged for meetings by audio-video link with urban planning consultants from Kimley-Horn in Dallas, including Haley Carruthers who addressed the Planning and Zoning Commission on March 26.

The commission tabled the plan that day after discussion and did not endorse its approval to the council.

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Some Planning and Zoning Commission members received the plan prior to the March 26 meeting and read it, while others did not receive it. Either way, commissioners needed more time to read it understand it and bring questions to city staff and Kimley-Horn consultants.

The current comprehensive plan was adopted in 2004. Woodway and the Waco region as a whole have changed a great deal since then, including enormous growth of hundreds of homes along the Ritchie Road corridor, one end of which is at Highway 84 near First Woodway Baptist Church. City and urban planners say that comprehensive plans should be updated every four to six years to account for changing conditions.

“The current version of the Woodway Forward plan is called a draft, but it’s the complete plan,” Carruthers told commissioners on March 26. “We called it a draft because we can make adjustments to it, if you or the city council need adjustments made.”

Read the draft plan (PDF)

The plan has been in development for about a year, with two public meetings and an online survey conducted to get input from residents.

“I think we got a good cross-section of the population in the meetings and surveys, with seniors and young families, and those in between,” Carruthers told commissioners.

Council Member John Williams, a member of the committee that drafted the comprehensive plan, said it’s meant to be a guide, not a stricture.

“Every few years, we need to think carefully about what we want our communities to look like 25 years into the future, and develop a guide to get there,” Williams said by phone Friday. “That’s what the Woodway Forward plan is. It’s a guide to keep the things the public said they want to keep and grow the things they said they want to grow.”

Williams said the comprehensive plan calls for a goal of commercial, industrial, retail districts and residential neighborhoods to stay generally where they are.

“No one is going to try to put a major commercial development in the middle of a neighborhood,” Williams said. “We encourage commercial and industrial in the corridor along Highway 84 where it already is.

“But what we might change on the edges of the commercial and industrial areas that are close to neighborhoods, would be some low-density multifamily housing or light retail, to make a smooth transition between land uses.”

He said the plan talks about goals for making the city more walkable and more bikeable.

The plan document itself recommends goals for several other sub-plans to also be created, including master plans for streets and for trails. Other sub-plans would set standards for historic preservation and set appropriate density of development and how large signs can be.

Woodway Forward also lays out actions for city staff and council to take if the council wants get grants for public art, or streets, water and other infrastructure. And it has checklists for accomplishing these goals.

It has recommendations in it for community centers and activities for all generations, council member Janell Gilman, who chaired the committee that developed the plan, told the commission during debate.

About a year ago, the Woodway Economic Development Committee chaired by Gilman began work on the Woodway Forward update. Public meetings to seek resident input for the plan were held May 17 and July 27, 2023. An online survey ran from May through July as well.

Woodway has paid Kimley-Horn $220,500 for their work on the plan so far, Finance Director Brenda Hernandez said in an email Friday. This includes the travel of urban planners from Dallas to Woodway for prior public meetings as well as the work they did from the office or via audio-video link with the committee.

According to the Woodway City Charter, the Planning and Zoning Commission not only has the duty and responsibility to approve recommendations to the city council for zoning and development, but also long range plans.

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