ANGOLA — An update to the Angola Comprehensive Plan could be approved as soon as December.

Cory Daly and Amber Janzen of HWC Engineering, Indianapolis, presented Monday at the Angola Plan Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting on why the plan from 2012 should be updated, what a comprehensive plan is, why it’s important for a community and highlights on some accomplishments Angola has made since the plan first came out.

City Economic Development and Planning Director Vivian Likes said HWC was not the engineering firm that put together the 2012 plan but the city has worked with HWC on a number of other projects.

“We have a good working history with HWC,” Likes said.

She described the comprehensive plan as a master plan and while the current plan is good, a lot of work has been done since it was approved.

The 2012 plan recommends reviewing and updating every five years.

Janzen said a lot has changed in the seven years since that plan was adopted.

“There’s this stigma that comprehensive plans and planning documents are sitting on a shelf, turning into dust, but that’s not usually the case,” Janzen said. “It looks out 10-20 years, but it’s important it get revised every few years so it can reflect current conditions which is what we’re doing now.”

Since its 2012 plan came out, Angola has met several of its goals with projects such as a housing needs assessment in 2014, a community revitalization plan in 2015, a 2016 community health assessment, a five-year parks master plan and the Hometown Collaboration Initiative.

Angola’s goals and achievement, said Daly, are doing better than many places in Indiana.

“You guys in terms of getting your goals done in your comprehensive plan are out-pacing your competition in the state,” he said. “You’ve been able to get a lot of things accomplished.

Comprehensive plans address a broad variety of things including roads and infrastructure, natural resources, quality of place, housing, land use, economic development and public safety.

According to a slide show prepared by HWC, comprehensive plans identify objectives and policies determining how and where future development should and should not occur through land use development strategies.

“It is not a legally binding planning and zoning law,” Daly said. “It is adopted by a resolution.”

That resolution will have to be approved by the Angola Common Council once the plan commission has worked through everything it needs to be in the update.

Daly said the plan should be used as a directional or policy guide for the commission to use to guide its decision making.

“When I do the staff reports, I’ll have sections of the comprehensive plan in there, especially for residential,” said Likes.

She used the example of a proposed housing development on South Wayne Street on the Steuben County Economic Development Corp. property that is waiting to hear on tax credits. If the developer gets the credits, development can proceed.

“Our comp plan stated in there, housing on South Wayne,” Likes said. “It’s what you worked on all these years.”

Once the plan updates are adopted, said Daly, the real work begins.

“Always turn back to the comprehensive plan as a source book, if you will, for recommendations for what comes before you,” he said.

Key updates for the plan, according to handouts, include updating the preface to describe the update purpose and revisions, an executive summary, updating the community profile and planning principals, amending the transportation plan, adding a new chapter for economic development and a new chapter on a housing plan.

“It’s not a wholesale, new adoption of a new plan,” he said. “It’s an amendment of your current plan.”

Commission members will get a new draft of the plan to go over and revise before a public hearing is held.

After that, the plan commission will adopt the 2019 amendments and then the Common Council will pass the resolution.

Tentatively, the commission is looking at a special meeting on Sept. 23 to revise the draft they will receive ahead of time with public presentation and adoption by the commission in October and council passage of the resolution in December.

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