October 09, 2013 Edition

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Planning meeting set in WR

Gretchen Hunt

The Walnut Ridge Planning Commission is asking the town's residents to begin putting together their thoughts on where they would like to see Walnut Ridge in the future.

Frank Owens, Walnut Ridge city inspector, said a meeting for long range planning has been tentatively set for Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lawrence County Meeting Room. That date was expected to be set at last night's Walnut Ridge City Council meeting, and the definite date will be reported next week.

"This lets the public come to the meeting and give their views and ideas on the city they want to see in the next 10, 15, 20 even 30 years," Owens said. "We really want people to come to the meeting and put their thoughts in."

Commission chairman Charles Snapp said the purpose of the meeting is to get input from the general public on where they want to see the city developed and how, which could affect zoning maps and city codes.

Urban Planning Associates of Little Rock has been contracted by the city to develop the plan.

"They will take all the ideas back and develop a plan from what is shared," Owens said. "It won't just be the planning commission's plan, or the city council's plan, it will be what the city as a whole is wanting."

Snapp echoed Owens' sentiment saying that they are really hoping to see a large turnout.

"This type of development plan can affect future commercial areas, housing development, downtown development and even our parks and recreation for many years to come," Snapp said. "Walnut Ridge has seen a spurt in growth the past few years, both residential and commercial, and we expect more development in the near future."

Snapp said having a plan in place will help the city and the commission be prepared for future growth.

"To be properly prepared for future growth and expansion, the city needs a building, zoning and development plan that will withstand the test of time," he said. "To achieve that goal, we need everyone with any interest to show up at this meeting and give us their thoughts and opinions."

Owens noted that as time goes by the plan may have to be altered to meet changing needs, but that it is important to have a plan in place.

Snapp said the meeting will be an open forum meeting, and the goal is to give everyone a chance to provide their input by establishing small groups, each with maps of the city limits, to help them explain their thoughts, identify current problems and find the solutions to many of the zoning and construction issues that face the city.

"Laying the ground work for the city's future development takes time and can help provide for additional growth," Snapp said. "I feel like we've needed a more definitive plan for years, and the mayor and city council should be commended for taking the steps and allowing the Planning Commission to start laying the ground work for future development."

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