Huntingburg begins updating comprehensive plan


HUNTINGBURG — The city is gearing up to start updating its comprehensive plan.

“The comprehensive plan is basically the look-ahead planning for the future of the community,” Rachel Steckler, Huntingburg’s director of community development, said after Tuesday evening’s meeting with the Huntingburg Common Council. “We’re wrapping up some major projects, and we need to look ahead to what we want to do next.”

The council agreed Tuesday to negotiate a contract with Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group of Indianapolis to facilitate and compile the plan.

“Although Taylor Siefker Williams has worked with the city in the past, they came in with a full presentation as if they’ve never met us before,” Councilman Steve McPherron said. “And they had the best proposal overall of the groups we looked at.”

Five companies submitted proposals; the top two companies were interviewed, Steckler said.

The work will include updating the plan and the unified development ordinance. The plan was last updated in 2014; the ordinance was last updated in 1999.

“It is a road map that essentially takes your community from where it is today to where you want to see it in five to seven years,” City Planning Director Paul Lake said after the meeting. “It’s bricks and sticks, but it’s also visioning, in terms of where you want to guide development.”

Money has been set aside in the current budget to update the documents, Steckler told the council.

It is generally recommended that the plan be updated every five to seven years. Communities must have an updated plan to apply for various state and federal grant funding.

Steckler made the presentation to the council in place of Mayor Denny Spinner, who was out of town Tuesday. Spinner said in January the city would start updating the plan this year.

“Now that we are in the final year of Stellar, we have to be just as diligent as we were five years ago in resetting the course,” he said then, “listening to where we are as a community, evaluating our strengths and weaknesses again, determining where we as a community want to be, and setting a path that is fiscally responsible in achieving those goals.”

The plan will include a lot of examination and community input on what Huntingburg needs and should develop in the upcoming years, the financial aspects of those ideas and how those plans should unfold.

“Like any family or business that lives on a budget, we have to be cognizant of the fact that we have made some tremendous investments,” Spinner said in January.

Both Spinner and Steckler said the community will very much be involved in the process.

“This will be an 18-month process,” Steckler said Tuesday, “with plenty of opportunities for public input.”

The council also:

Vacated Market Street as a public street. The road, which runs through Market Street Park, will be turned over to the Huntingburg Park Board

Adopted an ordinance correcting some minor errors made in the water fees ordinance. It does not change the gist of the ordinance, which established a new water rate and new tap-in fees.

Amended the ordinance that accepted Stellar Way, which is in the Hunters Crossing subdivision, into the city’s inventory. The original ordinance eliminated parking on both sides of the street. But after hearing requests from residents living on the street, the council made the amendment to allow parking on the south side of the street. Hunters Crossing’s homeowners association restricts parking on the street, allowing vehicles to be parked for a maximum of six hours a day; legally, a homeowner association’s contract for a subdivision can be more restrictive than a municipality’s rule.

Set a public hearing to consider a preliminary engineering report for a water study that is currently being done. That hearing will be at the council’s next meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, at City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St.

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