EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Lansing plan takes shape, reveals opportunity

2013-08-04T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Lansing plan takes shape, reveals opportunityBy Kristi DeLaurentiis nwitimes.com
August 04, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Planners use a structured process to help a community with its goals and objectives for beneficial development.

The final product serves as a road map for achieving the best possible results — the community’s collective aspirations regarding the physical aspects of community character and vitality over the next 15 to 20 years.

Last fall, the Village of Lansing launched a Comprehensive Plan initiative with financial assistance from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and technical guidance from Houseal-Lavigne, a Chicago-based planning firm. The village’s comp plan is known as “RE:Lansing” because it involves three primary components: Lansing REvealed, Lansing REimagined, and Lansing REnewed.

The first step, Lansing REvealed, catalogs existing conditions and summarizes initial input from residents, businesses, and local leaders through an array of public outreach methods. Prepared by Houseal-Lavigne with extensive community input, it sets the stage for the recommendations, policies and nuts and bolts planning to come. It answers the question, “Where is Lansing now?”

The second step, Lansing REimagined, will provide the community with an opportunity to define its vision for the future. Through charrettes and interactive workshops, stakeholders will be able to weigh in on the future of Lansing. It will answer the question, “Where do we want to go?”

The last step, Lansing REnewed, will include actual recommendations related to land use and zoning, commercial development, residential neighborhoods, transportation, parks and open space, community facilities and infrastructure, the natural environment, image and identity and plan implementation. It will answer the question, “How will we get there?”

The first stage of the process, Lansing REvealed, is nearly complete. Houseal-Lavigne has presented a market and demographic snap shot of Lansing today. Their overview of recent trends in population, households, income, age and gender characteristics, racial and ethnic composition, labor force and employment identifies current issues facing the community. This existing conditions assessment is the basis for determining what is potentially on the horizon and what future land use designations and planning objectives should be.

The good news: Lansing’s household and population numbers have remained relatively stable over the last several decades, with only incremental decline following the economic downturn. Further, Lansing’s inflation-adjusted median and average household incomes have experienced moderate increases over the past decade and are projected to increase. This rise in local household incomes nearly mirrors the decrease in the proportion of lower income households. The actual number of households earning between $75,000 and $100,000 is projected to experience the greatest percentage increase, with upper income households growing as well.

The data show promising economic development potential and future opportunities for investment along with the increase in Lansing households' spending power. More information certainly needs to be mined from the final report, but Lansing REvealed provides insight into the strength of the community today — and areas of opportunity for tomorrow.

The next phase of planning, Lansing REimagined, will focus on community input. Stakeholders are invited to express their aspirations for the community at a Community Vision Workshop scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Lansing Library. More information is available at www.villageoflansing.org. Where Lansing wants to go in the future is up to us.

Kristi DeLaurentiis is director of planning and development for the Village of Lansing. The opinions are the writer's.

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