DUNELAND

NIRPC: Planning for the Future of Duneland and the Region

2014-05-28T11:00:00Z NIRPC: Planning for the Future of Duneland and the RegionHeather Augustyn nwitimes.com
May 28, 2014 11:00 am  • 

NIRPC is a regional council of local governments serving the citizens of Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties in Northwest Indiana. NIRPC provides a forum that enables the citizens of Northwest Indiana to address regional issues relating to transportation, the environment and community, and economic development.

Kathy Luther director of environmental programs for NIRPC says that they are preparing for future planning in Duneland, specifically with the successful Marquette Plan. “We are updating the Marquette Plan right now and the Duneland community is part of that. It is just good planning practice to update a comprehensive plan on a regular basis and phase one was complete in 2005. There have been a lot of changes and success like the Porter Gateway and some of the bike path connectors, and there has been a lot of progress in general with bike paths, like the state-to-state bike path, so we will highlight some of that activity. We had some stakeholder meetings and open houses over the past year and we look to have an open house in June and we are under contract, funded by the RDA and the Lake Michigan Coastal Grant Program. The only thing we are adding that is new is we are working with Indiana Landmarks to find better ways to incorporate our historical culture into the recommendations,” Luther says.

Eman Ibrahim, planning manager for NIRPC says that growth in Duneland is a big factor for future planning. “Chesterton is expected to grow by 42% by 2040. Yes, you have it all. You have the prime location, two major interstates, open space, the school district. When we think about Chesterton and how it relates to the 2040 plan, it was easy for us compared to other municipalities that have issues. You are in a very good situation compared to others,” Ibrahim said. “Most of the growth is happening in unincorporated areas, and in Porter County, 40% of the population resides in unincorporated areas, so the question is how to control that growth. Chesterton’s future use plan is very consistent with our vision,” she said.

The 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP) is the first plan with a comprehensive vision for sustainable growth and revitalization of Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties. As a Metropolitan Planning Organization, NIRPC is responsible for the development of a long-range regional transportation plan. In the 2040 CRP, NIRPC planned for well beyond transportation, and includes the environment, economic development and land use. The CRP places NIRPC in an enhanced role in the region with respect to planning and implementation and encourages NIRPC to assist local governments and regional stakeholders to integrate transportation, land use, human and economic resources, and environmental policy objectives.

The CRP centers on revitalizing the region’s communities, particularly the older “core” cities along Lake Michigan, making them more sustainable and livable. The vision for 2040 in the CRP emphasizes a vibrant, revitalized, accessible and united region. The plan, adopted in June of 2011, was developed according to the following guiding principles: supporting urban reinvestment, ensuring environmental justice, protecting natural resources and minimizing impacts to environmental features, integrating transportation and land use to improve mobility and job accessibility.

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