Daniel Burnham is perhaps the most heralded American architect and urban planner of the past century, creating groundbreaking urban plans for many cities that fostered a sense of place and community. Like Burnham, Lansing has an opportunity to “make big plans.”
We’re poised to launch a new comprehensive planning process for the community this month. Just getting under way is a year-long initiative that will ultimately produce a plan for Lansing that can guide future growth and community transformation.
With the support of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the village will work with a team of accomplished consultants to develop a high-level plan that will serve the community for the next 15 to 20 years. Shaped by citizen participation, Lansing will develop a policy framework that can guide land use, development and community decisions into the future.
This fall, our interdisciplinary consultant team will start by analyzing existing conditions, providing an accurate evaluation of local strengths and weaknesses across a range of topics. They’ll examine existing land uses, zoning, commercial development, residential neighborhoods, transportation systems and infrastructure, community facilities, parks and open space areas. They’ll also explore Lansing’s image and identity and intergovernmental relationships with neighboring jurisdictions.
Part of the project will include a detailed land use market analysis and economic assessment. As a community in the south suburbs bordered by Indiana, the impact of current and future land uses across a larger geography will be considered. Local development potential will be evaluated, as will the appropriateness of specific uses within the context of a regional and national competitive market.
Adhering to Burnham’s decree, you can be sure Lansing will “aim high.” We’ll want to maximize Lansing’s economic development and employment opportunities and be proactive about diversifying the village’s tax base. Lansing’s objectives will also be integrated with CMAP’s Go to 2040 and the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission’s 2040 comprehensive regional plans to ensure local quality of life and economic initiatives contribute to the region’s economic competitiveness as a whole.
Over the next few months, community-wide invitations will go out asking people to weigh in with their aspirations for Lansing. Village staff, along with the experts, will reach out to partners across municipal boundaries and state lines to solicit input. Civic and business leaders and the public will be asked to participate and contribute to the creation of the new plan, one which reflects the concerns and vision of stakeholders.
We’ll find ways Burnham could never have imagined to help create an ambitious plan. We’ll schedule traditional planning workshops, charrettes and focus group sessions. We will also use new technology tools to obtain the broadest levels of participation as possible, helping define issues, establishing the vision, formulating ideas and shaping solutions.
Lansing wants to work together to translate a shared vision into a framework plan for the future. We want to be a groundbreaking community, leading the way, where planning results and innovative strategies make a difference in the character of the place and people’s lives. No small plan indeed.
Kristi DeLaurentiis is director of planning and development for the village of Lansing. The opinions are the writer's.