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Updated Streetsboro master plan focuses more on 'positive'

by mike lesko | Reporter Published: April 9, 2014 12:00 AM

Streetsboro -- Todd Peetz, director of the Portage County Regional Planning Commission, believes the city's comprehensive master plan, written in 2009, contains "a lot of negative descriptions of Streetsboro."

"It seemed like they were saying, 'These are the problems, and these are what we need to fix,'" Peetz said. "They seemed like they were painting a bad picture of Streetsboro."

Of the proposed rewrite of the master plan being reviewed by City Council, Peetz said, "We tried to be more positive."

After the Master Plan Review Commission reviewed the plan and proposed changes, the city's planning and zoning commission recommended approval of the changes, Peetz said. Council will make the final decision whether to adopt the changes.

"We are really close to the finish line," said Peetz, who gave a presentation about the master plan March 31 at a special Council work session.

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Peetz, who helped draft the proposed changes along with Portage County GIS specialist/planner Claudia James, said someone can read "almost any section in the 2009 plan and read a negative description. It wasn't the reality. It was more of an editorial. It was painting a picture in a negative tone. The descriptions really need to say, 'There's hope,' rather than, 'This is a bad situation,' which is what the previous plan said."

Peetz said those who created the original plan may have been trying to "set the bar low" to show progress in the future.

"The reality is, it isn't that bad [in Streetsboro]. The Master Plan Review Committee felt we should make those changes [from negative to positive], so we did."

The 2009 master plan was put together by Bird-Houk Collaborative and CT Consultants, following input from a committee of citizens over many months, according to Stacey Vadaj, Streetsboro zoning inspector.

Peetz said March 31 the "primary mission [of Council and the Master Plan Review Committee] was to see where the faults were in the plan."

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He said one of the major proposed changes is that the maps have been updated using GIS software and data rather than Photoshop, which, unlike GIS, does not have data attached to it. GIS is computer-aided mapping, he said.

Photoshop "made the maps really pretty, but they didn't have any value, as far as I could see," said Peetz. "If you asked me how many industrial land-use acres there are, I could tell you [now] in a couple minutes. I couldn't do that with the old plan."

Planning and Zoning Director John Cieszkowski Jr. said the land use maps were fine tuned, as well.

"Looking at the [2009] land use maps, often times, the boundaries between land-use categories did not follow parcel lines," he said. "We felt that would create issues down the line, no matter what. So we made an adjustment that all the future land-use categories on the land-use map followed actual parcel lines, not just drawn lines that could encompass several parcels. That was a major change that needed to be made and certainly was helpful."

Chuck Kocisko, a member of the Master Plan Review Commission, said he is pleased with the outcome.

"I like what we've put together," he said. "I think it looks pretty good."

The most recent master plan, written in 2013, used 2010 data, while the one prior to that, written in 2009, used 2000 data, Peetz said.

"We were just trying to update the data that was provided," Peetz said. "If they said there were [previously] 100 acres of commercial development and now there were 110 acres, we would change that."

Council also discussed whether to keep three environmental maps "showing the same thing," Peetz said. "We were debating whether one might be sufficient."

Also, words were added to the glossary, at the insistence of the zoning committee, "to make sure anybody can pick it up and read it," Peetz said.

"There is planning jargon in there," Peetz said. "They had us add words to the glossary, so it is more of use to the reader. If nobody can understand it except the planner or the engineer, that's not doing people any good."

Revisions to the Comprehensive Plan may be discussed further at City Council's Service Committee meeting April 14 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 9184 Route 43.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9439

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