An Introduction to the Waxahachie Comprehensive Plan

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This information is provided courtesy of the City of Waxahachie. Citizens are encouraged to go to the city website to view the entire plan and be informed so you can be witness to, and help guide, city officials in directing the city’s future.

Citizens can review the entire plan draft in the link found at https://tinyurl.com/26k7mu83.
Minor changes are being incorporated based on the last CPAC so the final revised draft will be available on the City’s website by January 9, 2023.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the Comprehensive Plan for recommendation on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. The City Council will consider the Comprehensive Plan for adoption on Tuesday, January 17, 2023. Both meetings will be in the City Council Chamber at City Hall, and public meetings begin at 7 pm.

Citizens can review the entire plan draft in the link found at https://tinyurl.com/26k7mu83.

Minor changes are being incorporated based on the last CPAC so the final revised draft will be available on the City’s website by January 9, 2023. The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the Comprehensive Plan for recommendation on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. The City Council will consider the Comprehensive Plan for adoption on Tuesday, January 17, 2023. Both meetings will be in the City Council Chamber at City Hall, and public meetings begin at 7 pm.

This is a pivotal time for Waxahachie, there are hundreds of homes being entitled and built every year. The population has grown over 20% from the previously adopted comprehensive plan in 2016 to today. Many issues that were mentioned in the previous plan remain to be present and intensified with the rapid growth.

By making the Comprehensive Plan work for us, and not against us, we can create a City that is more proactive and less reactive. This will get us more bang for our buck while introducing consistency, communication, and accountability by the City. The Plan consists of two components: a graphic component and a written component. The graphic component includes items such as illustrations that help convey development concepts and maps that will be used to guide future land use and transportation decisions. The written component Identity Statement provides context and details of the plan throughout the text.

The Plan is organized into five chapters: Introduction, Land Use & Growth Management, Mobility & Connectivity, Neighborhoods & Downtown, and Implementation. The introduction provides an overview of Waxahachie’s current status. This document was created with the help of the community including the public, stakeholder groups, Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC), City staff, and the consulting partners. From the Vibrant Assessment, a baseline was established. Through community surveys and stakeholder meetings, assets and obstacles were identified.

With the input from meetings with the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, the Identity Statement was created as follows:

“We value family, responsibility to our community, and inclusivity. We respect our history, nature, and culture – and we are working together to cultivate a vibrant place that is enjoyable and affordable for residents and a true destination that invites new people and businesses to our community”

In this same chapter, we also learn about the effects of rate and pattern of growth. As suburban growth begins to slow down, cities have a difficult time maintaining the aging infrastructure when there is no additional growth contributing to the budget. In order to maintain the City’s fiscal health, it needs to balance services, infrastructure, and revenue. Three options are presented to bridge the gap: 1) increase taxes or fees; 2) reduce services; or 3) develop responsibly. By adjusting the way a city develops, creating more fiscally responsible developments, cities can remain fiscally resilient and affordable.

To create a fiscally informed plan, we analyzed the current development patterns in Waxahachie to evaluate their performance. With this, we are able to determine key changes to the development pattern the City will need to implement that will increase the value per acre. The next steps are determining the land use and infrastructure policies that Waxahachie needs to adopt that will support a fiscally productive and resilient pattern. We must then determine the local people and organizations that Waxahachie needs to collaborate with to build infill and small projects.

Different development patterns can produce significantly different values per acre. Whereas suburban development takes up significant space with less uses, traditional mixed use developments generate higher revenue per acre. The same can be said for residential developments where larger suburban lots generate less revenue per acre when compared to traditional compact lots. Larger lots not only generate less revenue, they take up more space on streets. With less contributors on one street, more revenue must be generated to afford the maintenance of infrastructure. To mitigate this, building coverage and height can help increase taxable values. Guiding Principles 1 In order to guide Waxahachie down a path of development that will align with its needs and wants, the following Guiding Principles were established. By making these the forefront of all decisions, the City can be consistent with its intent for fiscally responsible growth.

While the Introduction chapter establishes the foundation of the City’s current state and the path that Waxahachie will traverse, it also establishes the why for the following parts of the plan. The next three chapters detail development concepts and strategies on land use and growth management, mobility and connectivity, and neighborhoods and downtown. In these chapters, we list recommendations that will aid in complying with the Guiding Principles as Waxahachie drives their development with the Identity Statement in mind. These recommendations are intended to be broad, yet have clear direction towards the goal. They do not include individual tasks. More specific action items are included in the final chapter of the plan.

The final chapter focuses on an implementation strategy to be used following the adoption of the Plan. It identifies steps and actions to make progress towards the community’s identity statement, guiding principles, and recommendations. The Plan sets out a timeline for action items that should be implemented over the next 10 years. Partnering with others will be key in fulfilling these action items. With citizen participation and collaboration with local and regional agencies, Waxahachie has a better chance at success. The implementation table should be evaluated annually to remove the items that have been completed and prioritize the items whose deadline is approaching.

Waxahachie is entering a critical period in its growth and development as a community. The city is experiencing rapid growth, with hundreds of new homes being entitled and built each year. Since the city’s last comprehensive plan was adopted in 2016, the population has grown from 34,000 people to over 41,000 (over 20%), and the city limits now span roughly 51 square miles. While this growth has brought more people, businesses, and amenities to the community, it has also increased the amount of services and infrastructure the city is tasked with providing and maintaining long term. Issues that were mentioned in the 2016 plan such as traffic congestion and the need to diversify housing continue to be present, and by some metrics, have worsened as a result of continuing to build mostly single family detached homes and auto-centric commercial. These tensions and constraints will only get worse without intentional efforts to bridge the gaps.

Where, when, and how the city develops in the next 10-20 years will have a direct impact on the city’s long-term fiscal health, affordability, and vibrancy. This plan has been crafted with a primary focus on leveraging growth and public investments in a manner that incrementally enhances quality of life for residents while also closing the city’s resource gaps over time. Through an extensive process of engagement, the community expressed both their concerns and aspirational vision for the future. This plan was drafted by taking into consideration the needs of a diverse group of stakeholders. Insight from citizens, business owners, employees, and organizations throughout Waxahachie are all a part of this document.

Why do we Need a New Plan?

 

  • To make growth work for, not against us. Growth does not always lead to sustainable, inclusive prosperity. In fact, certain types of growth can actually lead to the opposite. Waxahachie’s development to date has been a healthy balance of neighborhoods that serve a diverse population in a pattern that is financially affordable, but recent growth pressure has the potential to skew the city’s development pattern to one that is more expensive to serve and live in and less inclusive.

This process is about deciding what citizens want for their community, laying out a framework to manage growth to achieve these outcomes, and most importantly, understanding and getting comfortable with necessary compromises.

  • To introduce consistency, communication, and accountability that citizens desire.
    Managing expectations of citizens during growth can be extremely challenging, time consuming and frustrating. Establishing a cohesive vision, core values, planning principles, policies and prioritized implementation actions will clarify roles and expectations for City Council, staff, local businesses, and citizens and empower everyone in the community to contribute. Action items and decisions will be measured and tied back to this Plan, providing transparency and accountability.
  •  To make the city more proactive, and less reactive.
    The absence of current, coordinated plans and development codes has resulted in many decisions and day-to-day activities being reactive. Handling most development projects as planned developments (commonly referred to as PDs) is time consuming for staff, makes it difficult to manage and clearly communicate expectations, and sometimes limits the City’s ability to maximize return on investments. Updating the Comprehensive Plan and Development Code to allow incremental and infill development to increase intensity gradually city-wide puts city leaders in a position to streamline permitting efforts and be proactive decision-makers across all aspects of the City’s development and operations.
  • To get more bang for our collective buck.
    Infrastructure and development decisions today have financial consequences in the future. Choosing to build in less naturally high returning patterns forces the city to try and find revenue elsewhere. The City has to be especially careful about how limited funds are invested. City leaders need a plan for maximizing the return on investment of the City’s resources in a way that increases property values, improves quality of life, and reduces long-term infrastructure liabilities. Otherwise, the City will soon be faced with deteriorating neighborhoods and service liabilities that far exceed the community’s capacity to pay for them.

Leading a City is a Daunting Task.

There are always more demands than resources. As the name suggests, this plan outlines a comprehensive overview of city needs and desires. Then, it outlines the path forward. City officials change over time, so the Plan serves as the constant guide. It expresses the goals and direction of the community, and lays out the “game plan” for making these outcomes a reality. Clear expectations and responsibilities are outlined so meaningful progress can be made.

In Waxahachie’s case, the plan serves both as an educational document which provides a basic understanding of many of the concepts required to understand and interpret the needs of the community as well as an organized series of recommendations and supporting documentation that serve to help make Waxahachie more reflective of its citizens and guiding principles. Items like a Future Land Use Map and a Thoroughfare Plan provide specific suggestions on how to improve land use and transportation planning.

The public provided input on the community’s strengths, weaknesses, areas for improvement, and desired future. They also participated in public input meetings and gave feedback on various drafts of the comprehensive plan Stakeholder Groups Interviews with representatives of WISD, and Waxahachie Partnership Incorporated as well as business owners and organization leaders were conducted to get well rounded feedback.

Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee

The comprehensive plan advisory committee (CPAC) was composed of the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), City Council, and a group of citizens nominated by council members serving during the process. The CPAC met to oversee the planning process, and to inform the identity statement, guiding principles, and plan goals. They served as ambassadors of the Plan to ensure the City’s values were reflected and captured in the Comprehensive Plan.

Consulting Partner

The City of Waxahachie hired Verdunity to update the City’s Comprehensive Plan. They conducted an analysis of existing conditions, facilitated all project meetings, educated Staff, and CPAC on best practices; and drafted the comprehensive plan. City Staff City staff provided ongoing input and review of the planning process and deliverables to ensure the content in the plan is accurate and actionable. P&Z and City Council In addition to their role on the CPAC, commissioners and council members were given the opportunity at the end of the process to approve or reject the plan for adoption, with City Council having the final authority to formally adopt the plan. implementation strategy is provided at the end of the plan to establish an action plan to achieve the recommendations and goals for this plan and to move the community closer to its shared vision and identity. The Plan provides the framework necessary to move forward.

However, success is wholly reliant on City officials and residents.

The Texas Local Government Code (Section 213.002) allows cities to adopt a comprehensive plan to guide the City’s long-term growth and serve as the foundation for the City’s development code. It serves as a 10-20 year plan that establishes the City’s overall land use pattern, transportation network and water/wastewater infrastructure. The comprehensive plan identifies the lack or availability of resources to manage the anticipated growth in the future. The City can amend and update the comprehensive plan to recalibrate the plan to reflect changes in the City’s growth and development pattern over time.


For the entire draft Go to https://tinyurl.com/26k7mu83.

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