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City of Commerce turns to long-range plan at June 4 workshop

City council workshop meetings are held on first Tuesdays at 6 p.m.
Mark Haslett
City council workshop meetings are held on first Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

With the mid-range Strategic Plan now in place, the council is set to begin the creation of the 20-year Comprehensive Plan.

Commerce City Manager Howdy Lisenbee discusses the city's Comprehensive Plan during a June 4 broadcast of KETR's North By Northeast. Transcript follows. Audio recording is available in the player above.

Mark Haslett: On listener-supported 88.9 KETR in Commerce. It's 8:52. And this morning, we are enjoying the company of a frequent guest. It's Commerce City Manager. Howdy Lisenbee joining us for today's broadcast of North by Northeast: Conversations that matter to Northeast Texas. Howdy, welcome once again.

Howdy Lisenbee: Thanks for having me back.

Haslett: So the strategic plan was adopted as expected at the May meeting of the city council. And so that is a three to five year plan. We discussed it in detail last time you were here. We're not going to repeat that conversation today. It's available at KETR.org if anyone's curious. But what we're talking about today is the council business that's coming up in June, and there is another planning document that's quite different from the strategic plan. That's what's up next for the council. So let's talk about this document, introduce it, explain it, and then talk about how we're going to put it together.

Lisenbee: Sure. So what we just completed was the strategic plan, as you mentioned. And that is a process where we look at the next three to five years and we actually plan work. that we're going to do that we've started working on already. It's the things that we're going to deliver to the community in the next couple of years. We're now shifting to what's called a comprehensive plan and a comprehensive plan attempts to look 20 years into the future. And so the point of this activity is to develop a couple of different population growth scenarios. And then have some plans of how we will respond to that growth, depending on how rapid or how slow it is. And so the comprehensive plan takes about a year. It's a 12 month process. Because there's lots of different components that we're going to take an in depth look at and try to forecast out into the future. Clearly our crystal ball isn't better than anybody else's but if you fail the plan, you have planned to fail. And I believe that's a fairly famous quote.

Haslett: It's an accurate one as well. So the comprehensive plan, now, obviously lacking a crystal ball, I'm guessing that you would probably identify the range of likely scenarios and then come up with a different version for each particular anticipated context.

Lisenbee: Yes. And so typically this is maybe an oversimplification. But you'll look at what happens if the population stays flat? What if we crest out and then we just stay at this number out into the foreseeable future? What happens if the current growth trend continues at that same pace. And then what happens if that growth trend accelerates? And so we could plateau and just hold what we've got. We could continue to grow consistently at a linear pace of what we've experienced over the last 10 years, or it could accelerate. And in any of those scenarios, How do we as a community respond in terms of our infrastructure in terms of our land use in terms of growth of our community, what is our plan in those various scenarios?

Haslett: Let's talk about how this process is going to actually occur. And it's my understanding that it's going to be begin tonight at a workshop.

Lisenbee: We have a workshop with City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight at 6 p.m. at City Hall. This is open to the public and we will also be broadcasting on our City YouTube channel and then you can go back and watch it after the fact if you choose to. And the consulting team that we've brought in to help us with this planning process, it is quite extensive and it's not something that staff can tackle on our own.

Haslett: And so y'all did make the strategic plan on your own.

Lisenbee: Yes, we did the strategic plan on our own. But this is a much bigger process and we need some extra hands. And so tonight is the kickoff meeting We're really going to just start by explaining the process to the council and the planning and zoning commission and then we've asked a number of key community leaders To serve on an advisory committee And so once the council and the planning and zoning commission tonight have this kickoff meeting set things up the scope and the goal for the process then we'll stand up this advisory committee and they'll meet with us, with the staff and the consultants probably about five to six times over the next year as we start fine tuning the plan. There's a number of chapters in the plan that we'll tackle one at a time but that's how the process goes.

Haslett: I don't know that you have this right in front of you or in your head for easy access, but who-all's on the advisory committee?

Lisenbee: We're still nailing that down. We've extended the invitation, to 13 individuals that are considered to be community leaders some of them have agreed some of them have not and so once we've nailed down the full roster of that Committee, we'll make that public.

Haslett: Okay, very good. And so that's tonight at 6 p. m. And so these workshops scheduled for the first Tuesday of the month, not to be confused with the regular meeting of the Commerce City Council which happens on the third Tuesday of every month. So 6 p.m. this evening at City Hall and if the words “planning and zoning” don't get you fired up, then I don't know what excites you. But it's 6 p.m. tonight and if it's not convenient, then you can always go back on the City of Commerce YouTube channel and view the proceedings there, which is a great use resource for the community. Glad that y'all were able to get that to occur. And so Freeze and Nichols, Fort Worth-based engineers. They do lots of work for counties and cities around the region. And I think we've seen a few of their staff downtown.

Lisenbee: Yes, they are the team that helped us do the downtown master plan which was successfully. plan adopted and we've begun the implementation of that plan as well.

Haslett: Okay, and so they were downtown recently in case somebody observed some folks doing some engineering looking work downtown. They're taking the lay of the land as far as the sidewalks and streets go.

Lisenbee: Correct. We're designing the sidewalk and street improvements that are necessary to begin the implementation of our downtown plan.

Haslett: We love those historic streets, but they they're a little wavy.

Lisenbee: Yes, they are.

Haslett: They're not very flat. And we've been visiting with Commerce City Manager Howdy Lisenbee - real quick Howdy, before the top of the hour catches up with us., where can folks go for more information about what the commerce city government is up to?

Lisenbee: Our city website is Commerce TX.org. And we have social media presence on Facebook, Instagram and Nextdoor.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.