Members of the Portage Plan Commission approved the 2030 Comprehensive Plan update Monday, hindered only by a concern over the future land use map.
Joshua Langen, community and economic development consultant with planning company Vierbicher Associates, provided the final piece of a months-long presentation of updates to a plan meant to give direction for the city’s future. He included updates to address concerns provided in meetings in November and December.
“Last time we met we had a good discussion on the land use plan map and the districts that correspond to those land uses, so all was taken into account,” Langen said.
A public hearing was held five minutes before the meeting at Portage City Hall. No members of the public attended and no feedback was provided on the drafted comprehensive plan.
Goals, objectives and strategies were laid out for specific changes, like improving the intersection of DeWitt Street and Cook Street, but also for more general upgrades, like ensuring the city could encourage a variety of housing developments. One segment provides a guide for speaking to industries within the city.
“It’s something you do already, something you want to continue to do,” Langen said. “This simply lists some specifics.”
Another objective is to create and maintain safe, accessible parks, fairgrounds and outdoor spaces, Langen said. The suggestion to convert electrical-transmission corridors to provide recreational trails to the current system was also positive, he added.
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A majority of discussion centered around the topic of land use, like potential expansion areas, farmland preservation and a future land use map that outlines what type of development can happen in specific areas.
When Langen presented a map that had uses extending past the eastern city border, Mayor Rick Dodd, chairman of the commission, objected, noting that regardless of whether the county had designated the area the same, he didn’t want to upset a tenuous relationship with town of Fort Winnebago officials.
“We’ve been working with Fort Winnebago for well on six years now to try to get an intergovernmental agreement with them,” Dodd said. “We have yet to get that… I am not going to support anything that goes past what we currently have.”
Langen said it was a reflection of designations made by Columbia County, to which Dodd said, “I don’t care.”
Fellow commissioner Brian Zirbes said “it’s the town’s own plan,” but Dodd said he would not risk adding the designation outside of city limits because “that is a very touchy subject.”
“I fully agree the township already has a residential district there,” Dodd said. “I don’t want it to look like we’re coming out to capture that.”
Members agreed to adopt the plan for approval by council members with a map that does not stretch outside the city’s eastern border. The five members present, Bill Barthen, Frank Miller, Mike Charles, Zirbes and Dodd, unanimously approved the draft for consideration by council members.
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