Community Update: Zoning Code rewrite progressing toward council consideration; Youth Council Kicks off it’s year with Zoo Project

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Youth Council kicks off school year with focus on Zoo Master Plan

The Mayor’s Youth Council kicked off its 2017-18 year by welcoming new members, and by learning about the Municipal Zoo Master Plan project and what they can do to get involved.

This fall, Youth Council members toured the zoo, gathering information and discussed master plan details with the Community Development Department, leading the project. Youth Council members will work with parents and area youth to develop a specific project with the zoo, and/or choose one of the master plan improvement ideas as the focal point for their efforts.

The goal for the Zoo Master Plan is to provide a long-term vision for the facility, complete with objectives related to design, budgeting and implementation phases.

Community Development began by performing an analysis to identify the zoo’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Issues included some dated features and deficiencies in walking path flow and some water features.

Encouragingly, this analysis also pinpointed enhancement opportunities to increase use of the Oak Grove picnic area, seek a signature/feature exhibit, activate the entrance area (promenade idea, food carts, etc.), and add to the “silo” exhibit where the lemurs typically are.

We plan to continue gathering information from various age groups, particularly our youth, over the next couple of months. That input will then be incorporated into the final master plan.

On a personal note, I look forward to the Mayor’s Youth Council bringing the same energy and creativity to this effort as they have to such initiatives as neighborhood beautification and Aquatic Center fundraising.

Zoning Code rewrite progressing toward council consideration

The City of Wisconsin Rapids initiative continues apace to draft a new code to guide growth and development in a manner that reflects zoning and planning best practices. After two years of dialogue and valuable input among members of the Planning Commission and residents, we have developed consensus on the concerns and needs of our citizens that need to be addressed in the rewrite.

The initial draft of the zoning map has been presented to the Plan Commission for review and comment. The Planning & Zoning Commission is expected to continue reviewing key parts of the draft code throughout this month.

When completed, the new zoning code will be readable and understandable. It will be integrated into other land-use regulations as outlined in the City’s Comprehensive Plan and be internally consistent, with no overlapping or contradictory provisions. Graphics and drawings will be used to increase reader comprehension.

Adding to our momentum is the fact that the City’s Comprehensive Plan update is moving in lockstep with the zoning rewrite. The draft, a Long-range Plan Map was also submitted for initial review by the Commission and will come back in November. If all goes according to plan, the draft would be presented to the Common Council for initial feedback sometime during January 2018, with public hearings to follow.

The purpose of the comprehensive plan is to provide a 20-year vision and rational basis for local land use and economic development decisions. This incorporates such priorities as housing; transportation; utilities and community facilities; and agricultural, natural and cultural resources.

As we continue along the path to a zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan that meet the needs of a growing and dynamic community, we encourage you to stay informed, by contacting Adam Tegen, Director of Planning & Economic Development, at 715-421-8225, or at ategen@wirapids.org. Or visit http://www.wisconsin-rapids-zoning.civitekprojects.com/ for more information on the process!

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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